Saturday, October 1, 2022

2022 Election: Pete Wildeboer seeks reelection on NHCS board

NEW HANOVER COUNTY ⁠— Republican Pete Wildeboer is vying for one of the four seats on the New Hanover County Board of Education in 2022.

Port City Daily has sent a questionnaire to every candidate running in local elections in the tri-county region.

Wildeboer’s stances on issues are discussed below. All answers are included in full; the candidate’s opinions and statements are not a reflection of Port City Daily. Responses are edited only for grammar, spelling and clarity.

The paywall is dropped on candidate questionnaires to help voters make informed decisions ahead of Election Day.

To prepare, here are a few dates for readers to keep in mind:

  • Absentee ballots will be available Sept. 9 and have a Nov. 1 deadline.
  • Registration to vote will open until Oct. 14; afterward, according to the state board of elections, same-day registration only will be available during one-stop early voting. 
  • Early voting begins Oct. 20 and remains open through Nov. 5 (3:30 p.m.).
  • Election Day polls open Nov. 8, 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Locations to vote early in New Hanover County include CFCC Health Sciences and Learning Center (415 2nd. St.), Carolina Beach Municipal Building (1121 Lake Park Blvd.), CFCC North Campus (4500 Blue Clay Rd.), Northeast Library/Board of Elections (1241-A Military Cutoff Rd.), and the Senior Center (2222 S. College Rd.).

Once early voting closes, voters will need to go to the location listed on the voter registration card.

To see a sample ballot for the upcoming election, fill in voter registration info here.

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Port City Daily (PCD): Tell us your top three concerns within the school district and how do you plan to address them?
Pete Wildeboer (PW): The first is providing the very best education for our students every day. Thirteen schools with a D or F rating is horrible and we are failing our students but even more disturbing is that 13 schools did not make expected growth, which shows that they are moving backwards. We need to get back to basic education and do that well. We need to include our parents in this as important partners.

Secondly, we need to keep our students safe. A year ago we had a student shot on our school campus and more recently, a neighboring school system had a fatality on campus. I have met with the sheriff’s department to help formulate a game plan to keep our students safe. I have been pushing for the superintendent to have a goal written for student safety. We need to keep the students safe so they can learn.

Thirdly, we have got to get the board of education back to a functioning body whose primary purpose is to do what is best for educating our students. Our job is to educate our children and put them first in every decision we make — not to argue and act disrespectfully to each other.

PCD: The school board has stalled on a decision to end the practice of seclusion in schools for months. What indicators are you looking for to end the policy? Can you commit to ending the practice by a certain date?
PW: I am working hard on this subject and have spoken with Mrs. Varnum repeatedly and spoken with educators from other states that have ended this practice. We need to keep our students safe so we need another better alternative if a student becomes agitated.

PCD: How should the district address two years of learning loss due to Covid-19?
PW: As I previously mentioned, we need to have our teachers teach; that is what they do well. We need to have our counselors work with students who may need more emotional support. I have witnessed classrooms that spend many instructional hours teaching other topics besides the basics of education; we need that time to catch up.  

PCD: There are over 60 school resource officers across NHC schools. Is this effective for school safety? Why or why not? Should there be more measures implemented?
PW: I have advocated for strong school-level safety teams. I support and appreciate our law enforcement partners and feel that, unlike some other board members, they are crucial to keeping our schools safe and helping students see law enforcement officers in a positive light. 

PCD: The school board has faced many calls to ban books in schools and offer more parental oversight of curriculum. How do you promote a relationship of trust between educators and parents and ensure both parties’ roles are respected?
PW: As a former principal, this concern has come up before, I would ask the teacher if there was an alternative book that would not be so controversial, and still would reach the educational objectives.  I have also been the driving force in getting the curriculum posted on the NHCS website so parents can see what is going on in the classroom with their student’s education. 

PCD: Research has shown the district’s “neighborhood schools” districting policy has increased segregation along racial and socioeconomic lines reflected in Wilmington’s residential segregation. Do you think the district should redistrict using different techniques, why or why not?
PW: I would support looking at this concern very closely. There are other factors, such as having students on buses for an hour to reach their schools — two hours total. I would be in favor of making every school in NHC so good it doesn’t matter which school your child attends; they will get a top-notch education and not spend valuable time they could be doing tutoring or homework or just being a wonderful young person on a bus.

PCD: Do you think schools are adequately staffed? Why or why not? Do you think teachers and staff are adequately paid? Why or why not?
PW: As a former teacher, coach, athletic director, assistant principal and principal, the very simple answer is: no! Every faculty member should be better compensated.

It is wonderful that the county commissioners helped to make our teachers the highest paid in the state, but other professionals still make twice as much or more than they do.

And our classified staff — bus drivers, TAs, custodians, maintenance workers and cafeteria workers, who are vital — barely can make a living. That is why I tried to get them at least $17 an hour.

We want the very best people to work with our children. We are very fortunate to be almost totally staffed, and I will continue to push to stop new central office hires until we can adequately fund our classified staff. 

PCD: Current board members, please, answer this: What is one action you’ve taken as a board member you would do differently and why? Potential new board members, please, answer this: What would you bring to the board that is missing right now?
PW: I wish we had taken a closer look at the current calendar last January, so we would not need to revisit it now. It’s all about educating our students!

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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