Woodbury, Burke meet and greet turns tense

Barbara Burke and Malashi Woodbury

Woodbury, Burke meet and greet turns tense
October 25
04:00 2018

On Sunday, Oct. 21, Barbara Burke and Malashi Woodbury, District 1 Board of Education members-elect, held a meet and greet and ice cream social at the Winston-Salem NAACP headquarters.

While the event, hosted by the NAACP, Carver Alumni Association, and several other organizations, was designed to introduce Burke and Woodbury to their constituents in District 1, the gathering quickly turned into a heated debate on current issues plaguing local schools.

To jumpstart the event, County Commissioner Fleming El-Amin led the group in prayer before Burke and Woodbury spoke briefly about their plans as members of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools (WS/FCS) Board of Education. 

Burke, who has over 25 years of experience working in education and currently an assistant principal at Carver High School, said education is something she has been always connected to and as a member of the Board of Education she will do whatever is in the best interest of the students. 

She said, “…Whatever is not equitable for every school in our district, I will not vote for. We have to have people on the school board who are bold enough to say what is not popular, what other people might not like, but what will be right and what will be equitable.”

Woodbury, who currently works as a project coordinator for the Guilford County School System, has over 20 years of experience working in education and is a founding member of the Coalition for Equity in Public Education. A 1992 graduate of Carver High School, Woodbury said a point of emphasis for her will be having open lines of communication with the community.

She also discussed the importance of having equitable schools 

“One of my main points of reference is being connected to the community,” she continued. “I believe all of the schools in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County need to be strong so all of our children and families can enjoy a great education and have a wonderful experience.”

After Burke and Woodbury finished, Commissioner El-Amin took a moment to encourage those in attendance to vote “Yes” on the quarter-cent tax increase that is on the November ballot. El-Amin explained that the increase would be used to increase teacher supplement pay across the district if the Board of Education approves. 

Although it wasn’t his intention, El-Amin’s call to action sparked an unplanned question and answer session when a local teacher asked, “What money goes toward materials and books?”

She continued, “I’m asking because I’ve been a teacher for about 25 years now and the last time we purchased text books was about 12 years ago.”

Eric Martin, who worked for the local school system for more than 25 years before retiring, said the reason schools don’t have textbooks is because WS/FCS decided not to buy books any more, instead choosing to use the funds from the state on other things. 

“I’m the individual who purchased the books for over 25 years. The reason you don’t have books in the classroom is because Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools chose not to purchase them,” he continued. “… The money was allocated by the state, but when the money got here, they decided they didn’t need to spend that much on books.”

As the only sitting school board member in attendance, Elizabeth Motsinger felt the need to speak up after Martin’s comments. She said, “There is not enough state money coming in, and we are paying less per pupil than we were before the recession in 2006. 

“Where money for text books went was to keep teacher assistants in classrooms when on the state level they cut out teacher assistant pay,” said Motsinger. “… We chose people. We chose not to have massive layoffs during a recession and letting people go that’s where the money went.”

Others topics that were discussed during the impromptu town hall was the current make-up of the Board of Education, and Ashley Elementary. 

Although the meet and greet didn’t go as planned, both Burke and Woodbury mentioned that the gathering is something they plan to do regularly to get a feel for what the residents in District 1 would like to see from the board. 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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