Monday, June 24, 2024

2018 Primary: Frank Meares for New Hanover County Board of Education

Frank Meares is a new candidate for the New Hanover County Schools' Board of Education. Meares is a registered Republican.

Frank Meares is a newcomer to the New Hanover County Schools' Board of Education race. Meares is a registered Republican. (Port City Daily photo /COURTESY NEW HANOVER COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS)
Frank Meares is a newcomer in the Board of Education race for New Hanover County Schools. Meares is a registered Republican. (Port City Daily photo /COURTESY NEW HANOVER COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY—Frank Meares is a new candidate for the Board of Education race for New Hanover County Schools. Meares is a registered Republican.

Meares lives off Greenville Loop Road on Richard Bradley Drive and is a parent. 

Below are Meare’s answers to Port City Daily’s questions.

What do you see as the highest priority issue New Hanover County Schools face?

When you’re looking at the highest priority issue every school is different. After I’ve spoken with different principles, teachers and staff, the biggest issue they have in common is they don’t feel that the board is really listening to them.

The biggest overarching problem is that there seems to be no connectivity to the board. People don’t feel like they have a voice on it, they don’t feel like they’re being listened to. To me the biggest problem is that they don’t have anyone hearing what they’re saying and serving their needs. If we can turn that around and make people feel like they have a voice on the board. If we were to do that, the main parts of my campaign would be taken care of in seconds.

Do you find the operating budget to be appropriate? Would you like to see it increased, decreased or stay the same?

The biggest problem when it comes to the financial part is we have a growing county. As much as I would like to say ‘no, I don’t want to see it grow because you have to ask for more tax money,’ I don’t want to have to turn around and ask for another bond. There’s always something new. What we really need to do is not thing. We need to look at how we are spending it.

If you’re going to spend the money, spend it wisely actually use the product that you’re purchasing. If you listen to the teachers and you listen to the other administrators that the curriculum is old, if you hear what they’re talking about and you take the time that will solve the issue right then and there. I can’t say whether it will be enough in the future or not.

I do want to find ways to make what we have work. There’s an administrative cog. We need to make sure programs like the K-12 program is actually funded by the state. Those programs aren’t even being fully funded yet. As board members we’re supposed to speak to the House of Representatives so we don’t have to turn around and raise a bond issue in the next couple years.

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?

The problem is that I’ve heard a lot of different information on it. What is true and if it comes out being true then those individuals knew about it and did nothing. They don’t need to be part of our schools anymore. Period. This is horrible what happened.

The fact is this, young kids minds’ that have been hurt by this person no matter how nice of a person on the outside, they … did something irreversible to these children. I would personally make sure that we would hold them accountable for whatever level it was at. We need people to know that this will not be tolerated in our schools. If you swept it under the rug, you’re worse. My heart hurts when I’m hearing it because I know students that this might have affected. That’s something real close right now. As a parent, I don’t know what I would do.

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?

I would say they do and they don’t. Because when you have what we’ve been doing here locally in New Hanover County with neighborhood schools it all depends on the neighborhood. And while you have people that say they want to do redistricting, I’m personally a neighborhood school guy.

As a board itself, it should invest in those neighborhoods and invest their time in those schools, they will turn them around wherever they are. If you invest that time and invest that interest in them, they will grow and they will become better.

When we are talking about children that are in the schools where they’re in their last chance, that’s ridiculous. We have to work with those students because if they get kicked out they’ll be raised by people who are gang members and who don’t want what’s best for them. If we’re elected officials were supposed to be better. Were supposed to stand against the problems people are facing. That’s what we have to do.

Do you support the NHCS board’s decision to delay school redistricting? Why or why not?

No I don’t. It’s a can they continue to kick down the road. You come to an election year and they say, ‘Let’s not deal with this right now,’ that’s just ridiculous. If you see an issue, tackle it. What the board is doing is just pushing it down the road so they don’t have to deal with it during an election season.

I went through redistricting and it sucked. From where I was, I was nowhere near any of the kids that were going to be going to Roland Grise with me. It really does affect kids. I don’t know if the board members understand how much this does affect our kids. We need to talk about ways to fix our schools so that they can handle our over-crowdedness.

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?

Again it comes back down to listening to the people and doing things with some common sense. Right now you have people that have been on this board for 22- 20 some odd years. Actual experience isn’t going there. 

Currently I’m on the Soil and Water Conservation District as one of the supervisors. In my time being on that board, there’s a gentleman there, Bill Hart, who is fantastic at what he does. While I brought new ideas to it, he’s also opened my mind to other ideas. While it’s great to have people on there who have been there and know the ins and outs on how to do things it also, like my pastor was saying, it brings pride into people that blinds them. It doesn’t allow them to think that maybe they don’t have the right answers. It doesn’t mean your answer is always right and I feel like that’s where it’s gotten.

What strategy do you support in managing school overcrowding?

The biggest strategy that we can take on is speaking with the principles and working out an idea with them. We have a great system. The kids there are doing wonderful. You have to talk with the principles and ask, ‘Where do we need to fix it?’

Make sure the K-3 programs are actually being funded. That’s all state level. All we can do as board members is our job. But that’s a whole other discussion. Speaking with the principles is the key point in getting their ideas about how to mitigate the overcrowding issue.

What are your thoughts on Charter schools?

To me anything that gives more choices to parents is good. That’s all it comes down to. Every parent reserves the right to decide what to do with their children. The issues with most of them is the Spanish immersion program. When they raised issues they felt that they were kind of pushed aside. They went to homeschooling and picked other choices.

If you say, ‘I don’t like this,’ that means you’re trying to take away a parent’s choice to do something. I’m not running for this as a politician, I’m in here as a concerned parent. Offering the best possible futures and the best possible choices for our kids is paramount.

RiverLights is apparently receiving a new elementary school. Do you believe this is a fair prioritization of resources?

I haven’t looked at the amount of kids that are going to be going there yet. As far as if they’re looking at the students that are coming in and seeing there’s going to be such a population boom there that honestly needs a school, then I would say yes. But if it isn’t, then the board members need to be held accountable for not using our money wisely.

I don’t know any honest answer to say whether its a good idea or bad idea because I don’t know how fast that area is going to expand.  You do have a large amount of people that are going to be building not just in RiverLights so you do have a boom that’s going to be happening there.

You can check out all of the candidates under our elections tab.


Johanna Ferebee can be reached at johanna@localvoicemedia.com or @j__ferebee on Twitter

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