School board member-elect ready to shake things up
Posted October 7, 2009
Raleigh, N.C. — The votes are still being counted in the race for Wake County school board, but one thing is certain, change is coming.
Three of the four contested races were decided Tuesday night in favor of candidates who want to modify the district’s policy of busing students to ensure individual schools are socio-economically diverse. Chris Malone won the District 1 seat on the school board, while Deborah Pickett won in District 7 and Debra Goldman took District 9.
Unofficial results from District 2 show John Tedesco with 49 percent of the vote – just shy of the 50 percent needed for an outright victory. If those numbers hold when the votes are certified next week, runner-up Cathy Truitt said she would ask for a runoff.
The three winning candidates and Tedesco were endorsed by community groups like WakeCARES and the Wake Schools Community Alliance because they said they were willing to change the district's student assignment policies to favor neighborhood schools.
Truitt has said she supports community schools, but also values diversity through magnet schools.
Voters and the new members of the board are looking for change.
Together with school board member Ron Margiotta, four new board members opposed to the diversity policy would give the neighborhood schools position a majority on the nine-person board.
Debra Goldman, who will represent the Cary area, said the momentum behind her winning campaign shows voters were not getting the results they wanted from current board policies.
“I don't know if it was not hearing or not wanting to listen,” she said. “You have to be willing to listen and question or you're not going to grow."
Kevin Hill, the current chairman of the Board of Education, disagreed with her assessment of the voter mindset. He thinks supporters of the school district’s busing policy simply stayed home.
About 31,000 voters cast ballots on Tuesday in one of the four contested school board races.
“A majority of folks -- who are comfortable of what the system is doing -- probably took for granted that it wasn't going to be an issue," Hill said.
Whatever direction the new board chooses, Hill urged a thoughtful approach.
“As a team, the board needs to take a look at this … Phase it in, in a way that is best for the children," Goldman said.
Goldman said she is already studying the district’s student assignment policy and will be ready to get to work as soon as she is sworn in.
“There are some things that I'd like to see changed right away,” she said.