Wake County Schools

Blog: District 3 Wake school board candidates meet to discuss the issues

Posted September 14, 2011

Wake County Public School System
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— The second in a series of five Wake County Board of Education candidate forums continued Wednesday night at Church of the Nativity in Raleigh.

The forums are sponsored by WakeUp Wake and the League of Women Voters of Wake County.

Wednesday's event featured candidates from District 3, currently represented by Kevin Hill. Hill is running for re-election and there are three other candidates running for his seat: Heather Losurdo, Jennifer Mansfield and Eric Wayne Squires.

Although school board races in Wake County are technically non-partisan on the ballot, this race has become highly politicized after a Republican majority took majority control of the board in 2009. The Wake County Democratic and Republican parties are actively involved in endorsing, supporting and promoting candidates for this election, which will be held Tuesday, Oct. 11.

For more details on all school board candidates visit WRAL's school board elections page. 

Here is the format for the forum: 

Mary Jane Slipsky from the League of Women Voters of Wake County serves as moderator. Each of the four candidates is allowed to make an opening statement that must answer the following questions:

  • What do you hope to accomplish when you serve on the Wake County Board of Education?
  • What specific skills and qualities would you contribute to the Board of Education?
  • Serving on the Board of Education is an extremely time consuming commitment to the community. It can also be very stressful, Why do you want to take on this challenge?

After opening statements the moderator will ask a series of questions, followed by audience questions, and then each candidate will make a closing statement.

Here are some highlights from portions of Wednesday's forum, beginning with parts of each candidate's opening statements:

Heather Losurdo: I want to step away from the rhetoric and get back to educating children. Parents want school board policies that make sense. They want a board that acts in a professional manner and a school system that works. My life has been all about leadership.

Eric Squires: I am a product of the 3rd district as a Millbrook graduate. We can't come to the board with a particular agenda. I want to represent everyone in the district.

Jennifer Mansfield: I am an advocate for a true lottery system for magnet schools. I keep politics and agendas out of this. I focus on the facts. I have a passion for the school system.

Kevin Hill: We need to continue to support our teachers, not scale back their development. We need to provide good governance. I have 35 years of working in the school system. Serving on the board is my way of giving back to the community.

Thoughts on a student assignment plan:

Heather Losurdo: My ideal solution is keep kids close to their home. I agree with where Tata is going, but there are still many questions. I want to see more on feeder patterns. I want to get in an help create what's best for our children.

Jennifer Mansfield: There are still many big questions that to be answered about the Blue Choice plan. I like that low income families have the option to bus their children elsewhere or stay c loser to home instead of giving them no choice. I still think we need more parental buy in and more information.

Eric Squires: I appreciate the work that has gone into it. We need to get schools close enough for all students to walk to them. As we build more

Kevin Hill: We need to ensure all students at all schools will have the chance for high achievement. We have to ensure any new student assignment plan does not put students at a disadvantage.

Thoughts on specialized academies like STEM, single sex leadership academies, and magnet schools and whether they will compete for funding:

Heather Losurdo: We need to ensure we have the funds to implement these new creative ideas that are being proposed. I think we have a great magnet program and I would like to see that continue.

Jennifer Mansfield: I would like to see more of the specialized academies included in the current proposed assignment plan. We need to take a good look at the magnet programs and better define what they are and how they work for our children.

Eric Squires: Rather than focusing on just magnet or specialized programs, we need to keep the focus on every child at every level.

Kevin Hill: I am still waiting on more details from Tata about the newly proposed leadership academies and other programs to see how they would be funded, and whether they can be sustained. Magnet programs will have to compete for the same funds and we can not afford to lose our current magnet program.

Question on whether the candidates would agree with charging students and parents for extra curricular activities:

Eric Squires: We need to find the best value we can to keep extra curricular activities available for all students.

Kevin Hill: I strongly feel we should not charge for extra curricular activities. We are a public school system and these activities help improve student academic performance and attendance.

Heather Losurdo: I do not agreeing with charging parents for these activities. I think we should look for better alliances with local businesses and groups to keep them up.

Jennifer Mansfield: We are already charging parents to keep their kids in some activities. I would rather see us charge a nominal fee for some extra curricular activities if the alternative would be dropping the program all together.

A few highlights from the candidates' closing statements:

Kevin Hill:  My priorities include continued focus on student achievement, good leadership, better fiscal responsible. I can connect the dots between what might seem like a minor budget cut and what that means in the classroom. I will continue advocating putting all students first.

Heather Losurdo: I'm a mom who has been very engaged in my children's school and classroom. It's time district 3 had a visionary leader that will put student achievement above all else. We must continue looking for innovative ideas that are cost effective.

Jennifer Mansfield: Your only voice on a school board is your elected school board official. Kevin Hill has not been willing to work with any of the new school board members on any issues. I will continue to advocate for all students.

Eric Squires: If you cant work your heart out for the kids what is the point in having a heart at all? I appreciate the work of the previous school boards. We need to have stronger students to have stronger communities. It takes a certain kind of leader to get the ball across the goal line.


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  • Shamrock Sep 20, 2011

    "If you like the old diversity policy, vote for Hill. If you want neighborhood schools, vote for Mansfield."

    The old diversity policy is gone so this statement makes no sense.

  • WakeHammer Sep 15, 2011

    You're right. Losurdo was long on sound bites, woefully short on facts. Squires seems like a nice guy with good intentions, but he's in over his head here. Mansfield at times seemed to know more about the "blue" assignment proposal than Kevin Hill, who is sitting on the school board today. As was pointed out last night, Hill should be running to head the teachers union, not to represent parents in District 3. If you like the old diversity policy, vote for Hill. If you want neighborhood schools, vote for Mansfield.

  • specialibrarian Sep 15, 2011

    Very early into the forum, Ms. Losurdo showed that she was unprepared with any substantive data, information, or ideas. She spoke in broad and vague terms that did not engender confidence that she took OUR children seriously.

    Mr. Squires, while a good hearted man who would like to "do right" by his community, did not seem to truly grasp the many hard decisions that need to be made as a school board member. He also said that, "...school should not be the place where diversity happens..." Church, perhaps?

    The two candidates who stood out were Ms. Mansfield and Mr. Hill. Mr. Mansfield, as the incumbent, came prepared with data and examples of our county's challenges and, most importantly, our strengths. He came prepared to figth for all of our children. Ms. Mansfield was the stronger of the contenders. While she said that "bridge building" is what she wants to do, Many of her ideas seem to be more in line with the current majority.

  • Not_So_Dumb Sep 14, 2011

    hpr, well said. The only difference is that now WRAL disagree with the politics of the side in control. It is like conservatives and their dislike of big government; it is at its highest when it is the big government of others, but seems to be far less of an issue when they control the big government.

  • hpr641 Sep 14, 2011

    "Wake County are technically non-partisan on the ballot, this race has become highly politicized after a Republican majority took majority control of the board in 2009."

    Actually, Mike, it was "highly politicized" before that ... unless you seriously believe that Democratically-aligned candidates controlled 8 of the 9 seats without there being any "politicizing" of the school board races.

    Come to think of it, it became "highly politicized" from its beginning in the early '70's when the state legislature stepped in and forced a marriage between the Raleigh City School System and the Wake County School System ... immediately AFTER the people had just voted in a referendum AGAINST it by a huge 3-1 margin.