NEW HANOVER COUNTY—Elena Rosemond-Hoerr is a new candidate for the New Hanover County Schools’ Board of Education. Rosemond-Hoerr is a registered Democrat.
Rosemond-Hoerr lives off North 23rd Street on Chesnut Street and is a parent.
Below are Rosemond-Hoerr’s answers to Port City Daily’s questions.
Editor’s note: Because there not more Democrats running than there are open seats, there will not be a Democratic Primary. Because those candidate’s will be on the November ballot, we asked them to take part in these candidate profiles.
What do you see as the highest priority issue New Hanover County Schools face?
As an early childhood educator, I see a desperate need in our county for expanding access to public preschool. I am a Montessori teacher and one of the ideas Maria Montessori espoused was that the first six years of a child’s life are crucial in determining who they are and what they can achieve. Children in our most vulnerable communities are entering kindergarten without being ready and that sets them up for failure and creates an undue burden on teachers. Studies show that students who enter kindergarten having had access to pre-school education are more successful learners and that the investment in pre-school saves the school system and county money and resources over time by reducing the amount of disciplinary action needed to manage students. Setting our students up to be successful students and community members should be our highest priority.
Do you find the operating budget to be appropriate? Would you like to see it increased, decreased or stay the same?
Increasing the budget for the New Hanover County School System in 2017 was an important step and we are moving back towards the pre-recession spending numbers on both a county level and a state level. However, while reaching our 2008 per pupil spending moves us in the right direction, that was 10 years ago. We need to do better if we want to continue moving our schools towards growth and development.
Author’s note: Port City Daily initially identified the “operating budget” in our candidate survey questions as the total budget. The question has been simplified in its published form.
Michael Earl Kelly has been charged with at least 14 counts of indecent liberties with a minor. He taught at Isaac Bear Early College since the school’s inception. If information becomes available that NHCS staff members were aware of any of Kelly’s abuses, how would you plan to hold those individuals accountable?
Nothing is a higher priority than the safety of our students. Our children deserve to attend schools where they are loved and protected. Adults who violate that safety by protecting an abuser have no place in our schools and should face the full consequences of their actions under the law.
Author’s note: Since Port City Daily’s questionnaire was shared with candidates, Michael Earl Kelly has been charged with an additional 27 charges related to sex crimes against children.
Do you feel that New Hanover County elementary schools have a fair and just socioeconomic study body composition? Its middle schools? Its high schools?
No matter how you propose to address the problem, I think we can all agree that the socioeconomic breakdown of our schools is unbalanced at every grade level. Some of our children are attending failing schools from the moment they step into the doors in kindergarten to the day they graduate from high school. All of our students deserve access to a quality education and a well balanced peer group.
Do you support the NHCS board’s decision to delay school redistricting? Why or why not?
I do not support the delay of the redistricting process. Some of our schools are wildly overcrowded, with numbers over capacity in the hundreds. It is time for us to address the issues facing our school system and not keep putting them off to deal with at an ambiguous later date.
What is your opinion of having a board comprised of multiple individuals having served 15 or more years? What are the strengths or weaknesses of having a majority veteran board?
I think there is great value to experience and as a school system it is important for us to draw on that experience as we grow. Unfortunately some of the School Board members that have been serving for decades are committed to policies that are outdated and no longer working in the best interest of our children. The School Board needs members that were born in the ’80s, not ones that have been serving since the ’80s.
What strategy do you support in managing school overcrowding?
We need to redistrict our schools and it is clear that we desperately need a fifth high school. Addressing the need for redistricting immediately instead of putting it off and spending money on temporary classrooms is a high priority. We also need to work with the county commissioners to create a bond plan for a fifth high school to keep pace with the growth of our county.
What are your thoughts on Charter schools?
Charter schools can be a wonderful thing when they serve populations that need additional resources or when they bring innovative options into the school system. However I believe that if charter schools do not offer free and reduced lunch and busing for all students they are not a benefit for the county because they cannot, by function of lacking these two key components, serve the whole community. Charter schools that do not serve the whole community only draw resources away from our public schools and leave our underserved communities at greater risk.
RiverLights is apparently receiving a new elementary school. Do you believe this is a fair prioritization of resources?
Every student in New Hanover County deserves access to a quality education, which includes well-resourced schools. My hope is to see a school system where the children on Chestnut Street are receiving equal access to education as the children in RiverLights. I live and work downtown and want to make sure that our county and school system is investing equally in all parts of our growing community and not prioritizing one geographical area or demographic over the other.
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