Local Politics

Wake School Board Candidates Face Off

Posted October 4, 2007 7:48 p.m. EDT
Updated October 4, 2007 8:11 p.m. EDT

— On the topics of year-round schools and controversial land deals, Wake schools have been in the hot seat.

Despite the attention, there's a lack of interest in running for school board. Three of the five open school board seats have only one candidate.

In Northern Wake and Central Raleigh, there will be a race next Tuesday. District 3 has three candidates. District 6 has four.

On Thursday, those candidates sat down with WRAL's Kelcey Carlson for a debate.

A failed land deal for a new school in Rolesville sparked a debate in the District 6 race for Wake School Board.

“When we chose the site in Rolesville, it was because it was the most build-able site and the total cost of the project would end up being less,” said Beverley Clark, an incumbent board member running for district 6.

Clark defended the $3.5 million deal even though it appraised for less. Commissioners didn't endorse the full offer and the seller turned it down.

On Tuesday, Clark faces three opponents.

“The school board didn’t do its homework up front, and if they had, it wouldn’t have come down to this and would’ve gotten a better price,” said district 6 candidate Sean O’Brien.

Issues of trust, communication and image got O'Brien, Ed Armogida and John Zal talking.

“There’s so much negativity and negative press,” Armogida said.

“I think we need to connect more with parents,” Zal said.

In District 3, there is no incumbent. The three candidates agree on many issues, but busing students sparked some debate.

“I support busing when it’s a parent’s choice,” said candidate Alfreda Wilson.

Kevin Hill and Martha LaVance said they believe the current busing strategy is necessary to avoid high concentrations of poverty.

“If enrollment is dropping and there are socio-economic issues arising, we need to look at that school,” LaVance said.

“I strongly think the health and vibrancy of a community is linked to the health of a school system,” Hill said.

The future of the school system hinges on many controversial issues. If elected, sky rocketing enrollment, academic achievement and image will be on their plate.