Saturday, July 13, 2024

Brunswick County Primaries 2024: Vickie Smith vies for District 1 board of education seat

Vickie Smith is running for the Brunswick Board of Education for District 1. (Courtesy photo)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — 2024 is a presidential election year but also one that impacts numerous local boards — such as county commissioners and education districts in the tri-county region.

Republican Vickie Smith is running for Brunswick County Board of Education. A retired educator, Smith is facing off against District 1 Republican candidate Lavar Marlow in the primary election, to take place March 5. Her stances on issues are discussed below. All answers are included in full; responses are edited only for grammar, spelling and clarity.

Port City Daily has compiled candidate questionnaires so voters can read up on contenders’ stances before heading to the polls. The paywall is dropped on profiles to help voters make informed decisions ahead of casting their ballots.

Voters will choose which candidates from their registered party they want to move forward in the formal election — or those who are registered unaffiliated can choose which party’s primary they want to vote in. After the March 5 primaries, Election Day will be Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2024; a valid photo ID will be needed to cast a ballot in both. 

Anyone not registered to vote can partake in same-day registration, available throughout the early voting period, Feb. 15 – Mar. 2. Check here to see if your registration is active at your current address.

Early voting in Brunswick County takes place at five locations: the Cooperative Extension at the Government center (25 Referendum Dr. in Bolivia), Leland Cultural Arts Center (1212 Magnolia Village Way), Brunswick Center at Southport (1513 N. Howe St.), Brunswick Center at Shallotte (3620 Express Dr.) and Sunset Beach Community Center (200 Station Trail).

Early voting at the Cooperative Extension is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 15-16, 19-23, and 26-Mar. 1, and on Mar. 2, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The other locations are open: 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 15-16, 19-23, 26-Mar. 1, and on Saturday, Feb. 17 and 24, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., and Mar. 2, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. The locations open one Sunday, Feb. 18, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.  

Below is a breakdown of dates to expect ahead of the primary election:

  • Jan. 19, 2024: County boards of elections begin mailing absentee ballots to eligible voters who submitted an absentee ballot request form.
  • Feb. 9, 2024: Voter registration deadline (5 p.m.).*
  • Feb. 15, 2024: In-person early voting begins.
  • Feb. 27, 2024: Absentee ballot request deadline (5 p.m.).*
  • March 2, 2024: In-person early voting ends (3 p.m.).
  • March 5, 2024: Primary Election Day.
  • March 5, 2024: Absentee ballot return deadline (7:30 p.m.).*

Smith’s questionnaire is below; all candidate’s opinions and statements are not a reflection of Port City Daily. 

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Port City Daily (PCD): Why do you want to run for the school board?

Vickie Smith (VS): I am running for the Board of Education because I feel that my 30 years experience in education as a teacher and administrator will benefit the students, staff, and parents of Brunswick County.  

PCD: What is the current board of education getting right? Wrong?

VS: Our current board of education is doing an amazing job with hearing and addressing the concerns of their constituents as well as hiring and retaining bus drivers. 

I would like to see more of a focus on our early childhood program especially in providing more support for kindergarten and first grade students. We put a lot of focus on graduation rates and they are very important, but we should also remember that the elementary years are critical in determining the success of students. 

PCD: If elected, what is the top issue you want to tackle? 

VS: I feel that our county needs to have more of a focus on building a strong foundation for our students in the elementary grades to ensure student success throughout their school career. This could be accomplished through implementing regional pre-K programs and providing more support in kindergarten and first grade classrooms in the form of teacher assistants.  

PCD: In November, the board voted to review the makeup of the district’s book review committee, particularly examining more community stakeholder input. Do you agree with the way the district reviews curricular and library material? Would you change anything about the process, and if so, what? 

VS: I feel that the process our county uses to review books is appropriate. It includes staff and parent input. I was a part of this process when I was the principal of Union Elementary so I can say first hand that I feel it is appropriate.  

PCD: Also in November, the board voted to review its sex education curriculum after one board member said he found some of its content “inappropriate.” Do you see any problems with the district’s sex education curriculum, and if so, what would you like to see changed? 

VS: After speaking with students and parents, I feel that there are enough concerns that it should continue to be reviewed to ensure that it is appropriate for 12-13 year old students.  

PCD: Do you think the district is adequately staffed? What positions would you like to see prioritized and/or deprioritized, and what should the board do to create a better working environment for its employees?

VS: I feel that the district is adequately staffed with the exception of support staff (teacher assistants) in kindergarten and first grade classrooms. I would love to see more of a focus on providing support in the lower grades to ensure that students become proficient in reading and math.  

PCD: Since the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, many school districts have been grappling with a return to more rigid, and in some views inadequate, processes highlighted by pandemic flexibility. These issues — calendar law, budget cycle, allotment funding — often stem from the state level. What is your view on these topics, do you think they should be changed and how would you plan to do so

VS: It is my understanding that Brunswick County Schools has worked diligently to ensure that our schools continue running smoothly and this has not been an issue. 

PCD: At a legislative luncheon in December, Superintendent Dale Cole said the district is focusing on providing students with education and connections with CTE and trade careers. Do you agree with a focus in this direction, and how do you think the board and district should promote these pathways, while also still providing support for students seeking higher education post-graduation?

VS: I support providing opportunities for all of our students whether they choose CTE and trade careers or higher education. I feel that Brunswick County Schools has shown a strong commitment to all students in this area and I hope to see these programs grow with additional opportunities.    

PCD: Brunswick County is one of the fastest growing counties in the state and nation. Do you think the district is in a good position to accommodate the county’s growth as far as staffing, capital needs and infrastructure? What else can be done to prepare for additional students?

VS: It is my understanding that Brunswick County Schools pays close attention to growth in the area and has developed short and long range plans to meet the needs of students, staff and schools.  

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Shea Carver
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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