Candidates share their visions for local schools

The New South Community Coalition and the Coalition for Equality in Pubic Education invited candidates running for At-Large and District 2 seats on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education to discuss their visions for the future earlier this week at a forum. 

Candidates share their visions for local schools
October 11
09:14 2018

With Election Day less than a month away the New South Community Coalition and the Coalition for Equality in Pubic Education invited candidates running for At-Large and District 2 seats on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education to discuss their visions for the future earlier this week at a forum. 

The open forum held at the Clemmons Library on Monday, Oct. 8, gave political newcomers who are candidates for the At-Large seats – Jim Smith, Andrea Bramer, and Timothy Brooker – a chance to build their cases against incumbents Elisabeth Motsinger and board vice-chair Robert Barr, who weren’t in attendance during the forum. Voters will be allowed to vote for three people in this race.

Bramer, a Democrat who works as an employee benefits specialist at Well Fargo Institution & Retirement Trust, didn’t waste anytime calling for a complete overhaul of the board. Using the fact that there was only one incumbent candidate in attendance during the forum as ammo, Bramer said it’s time for a change. 

Candidates in attendance during the forum running for District 2 were Democrat Marilynn Baker, Republican Leah Crowley, Democrat Rebecca Nussbaum and incumbent Republican Lida Calvert Hayes. Voters will be allowed to vote for four people in this race.

“Lida is here but the other incumbents are not because they don’t care. So I strongly suggest that you don’t vote for any incumbent,” said Bramer. “I would like to see the board flip. They’ve had plenty of time to actually make a difference and they didn’t.” 

Republican At-Large candidate Timothy Brooker is an accountant for Piedmont Federal Savings & Loan. Brooker said if elected to the school board, he plans to use his background in finance to make sure funds are allocated through the school system properly. He also put an emphasis on an increased teacher supplement. 

“The teacher supplement is a huge issue and I would fully support raising the supplement. Not supporting tax increases but maybe finding a way to increase teacher supplement so we’re not 26th in the state we should be fourth or fifth,” Brooker said. 

Smith, also a registered Republican, who has been a resident of Clemmons for the past 13 years and is a stay-at-home dad of three students currently attending public schools, said after serving on multiple boards at his children’s schools’ and throughout the community centers around education, he felt now he has a chance to have an even bigger impact on students in the community. 

“I’ve done a lot, I’ve been involved with PTA Council, AIG advisory committee, president of the PAGE Group (Partners for Advacment of Gifted Education) Forsyth County Chapter and now I also sit on the faith board of NCAGT (North Carolina Academically Gifted and Talented),” continued Smith. “… I got involved doing those things but I want to be more involved not just with my kids but all the kids in the county. I want every kid to reach their potential and I’d like to help them.”

While introducing herself to the more than two dozen voters in attendance, Baker, who is a graduate of East Forsyth High School and worked in education and business, said she’s running for the school board because she cares about children and the public schools. She said if elected her first plan of action will be to implement a strong strategic plan to uplift students currently living in poverty, improving third-grade reading scores, underperforming schools and other issues. 

“We really need to have a strong strategic plan for our schools. We have schools that are overcrowded and we have schools that are half empty that is not OK. We can do better than that,” said Baker. “Nearly half of our schools are underachieving and underperforming with less than half the students reading at grade level and that’s not OK. We can’t move forward with that.”

She said,”… I want Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools to foster a love of education and foster a safe environment for kids to learn. I want all our schools to be great and I believe every student and every teacher deserves to be apart of a great school.”

Crowley, who is the mother of four kids and has volunteered at more than 20 schools across Forsyth County, said she’s running for WS/FCS Board of Education because she wants to make a difference. In her campaign statement, she says one of her goals, if elected, will be to bring a sense of community to all the schools in the district. 

She said, “If elected I promise to be open and accessible to our community. I am for access and equity and improving the neighborhood and magnet schools we have. I will advocate resources to be devoted to training to address learning differences and I am for supplying students with the tools they need to achieve success.” 

Nussbaum said through her volunteer work over the past decade at her children’s schools, she has seen firsthand how some schools have fallen drastically behind. She said she’s a strong believer in the community’s rallying together to uplift our struggling schools. 

“I’m also running because I believe we have some fundamental choices that have to be made over the next four years I think our school district has fallen behind in the way we educate children. We should be Educating for joy not test scores,” continued Nussbaum. “… I don’t think this is something the school board alone can address but I think as a community we absolutely must be looking at what we stand for and what it is we want to stand for.” 

Calvert Hayes, the lone incumbent in attendance, said she is passionate about the future our local schools and all schools being equitable. She said the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer is not her idea of the kind of school system we should have. 

She said as member of the board of education for the past three years, and a single mother, she realizes the importance of education. 

“I can relate to a number of families in this district, and I see the impact of bringing good schools to our community. Without good schools in Winston-Salem, we’re only going down hill. So it’s very very important for us to have all our schools as good schools, not just a certain area,” said Calvert Hayes. “I believe in equality for all our students. Every one of our students is important.” 

Following the forum, several voters said they left with a better feel for what the candidates were all about. One citizen said it’s going to be interesting to see who comes out on top come Nov. 6. 

“They all made some good points and they all seem to have an understanding of what’s going on in the district. It’s going to be interesting to see who wins.” 

For a complete list of the candidates running for theWinston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education, visit the Forsyth County Board of Elections official website. at 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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