Monday, June 17, 2024

2022 Primary Election: Steve Gainey runs for Brunswick County Board of Education

Steve Gainey, a registered Republican, is running in District 5 for the Brunswick County Board of Education. (Courtesy photo)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY ⁠— Steve Gainey, a registered Republican, is running in District 5 for the Brunswick County Board of Education.

Port City Daily has sent a questionnaire to every candidate running in local elections in the tri-county region. The paywall is also dropped on profiles to help voters make informed decisions ahead of casting their ballots.

As a reminder, the early voting period runs from Apr. 28 to May 14. The voter registration deadline is Apr. 22. Voters may partake in same-day registration throughout the two-week early voting period (check if your registration is active at your current address).

Primary Election Day is May 17. Voters will choose which candidates from their registered party they want to move forward in the formal election. Those who are registered as unaffiliated can choose which party’s primary they want to vote in.

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

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Port City Daily (PCD): What are the greatest issues schools are facing? How would you work to fix them?
SG: Speaking of Brunswick County Schools (BCS):

●  Overcrowding – Overcrowding stresses teachers and staff thereby reducing instructional quality. It is also a school safety concern. In the short term, considerations must be made regarding the best use of available space and resources. Simultaneously, long term planning, using expert consultants, must be ramped up so that an appropriate bond referendum can be placed before the voters as quickly and prudently possible.

●  Teacher Retention – BCS, similar to the state as a whole, is losing teachers. This is a multifaceted problem that necessitates a strategic re-evaluation of our pay structure and a commitment by the board to ensure that the work environment, i.e. the classroom, is honoring and safe and a place of instructional creativity and innovation.

●  Outside Influences – The State School Board, through the office of the State Superintendent and the NC Dept of Public Instruction, is embracing and implementing increasingly liberal programs that appear to see schools as instruments for social engineering as much as for education. As a school board member I intend to regularly attend State Board meetings so I can report back on pending initiatives and policies that may be of concern to my constituents. I will also reach out to conservative board members in other school districts across the state to try and organize a larger presence of elected county officials at State Board meetings.

PCD: Mask mandates. Canceled proms and sports. Virtual schooling: How would you describe the current and past leadership’s management of the Covid-19 pandemic in schools?
SG: “Management” of Covid-19 was abysmal at the state and federal levels and left little or no opportunity for local boards to fulfill their duty…educating students.

PCD: Moving forward into an endemic phase, what is your stance on how the board should weigh public health into its decisions?
SG: It is the school board’s duty to weigh what are the optimal conditions and standards for effective public education. If a true public health crisis arises and is exacerbated by school attendance, consideration should be given for temporarily closing schools to allow the threat to subside. Then instructional days are not lost as they can be made up, en masse, on Saturdays, holidays and summer break, as needed. Remote learning, mandates and masks should never be used again.

PCD: What is your opinion on the district’s current salaries and staff morale?
SG: In terms of teacher salaries and morale we have work to do.

PCD: What changes would you advocate for, if any, and how so?
SG: A strategic pay plan utilizing multi-year, contracted bonuses/supplements to be paid out over the term of the contract and based on a combination of merit considerations and years of service.

In terms of morale, insuring that the classroom is honoring and safe and a place of instructional creativity and innovation.

PCD: Are community members, parents and staff members adequately heard?
SG: For the most part those that purpose to be heard are heard.

PCD: How can the district improve?
SG: I believe board members should consider having town hall style meetings 3 or 4 times a year in schools in their respective districts.

PCD: What needs to be done to make schools safer?
SG: First, Brunswick Co. Schools are not unsafe. In fact, our district is viewed as having one of the most advanced SRO programs in the state. I have met with high ranking officers in the Sheriff’s office to discuss this very matter; officers who are responsible for the day to day conduct of school safety. Short of turning our schools into armed fortresses, I am comfortable saying that BCS and the Sheriff have taken all practicable steps to provide for a safe, yet welcoming, school environment.

Overcrowding is a safety issue in terms of traffic and because of the greater difficulty inherent in overseeing the safety of X number of people in a given space compared to 2X. Additional, well designed educational space is the only practical remedy for this problem.

PCD: How comfortable are you with the way the district uses local funds?
SG: Local tax dollars account for approximately 25% of the school budget and are used primarily for facilities and transportation. On the whole, I believe these expenditures are well managed. But I can not speak with true certainty on this matter until I assume a board seat and I am involved in budgetary oversight.

PCD: What do you think of Brunswick County Schools’ current facilities?
SG: I am not familiar enough with the facilities to answer this question.

PCD: Do we need to build new schools to manage population growth?
SG: Absolutely

PCD: Is there an additional issue or issues you think need(s) to be addressed during your term, should you win?
SG: We need to promote Tech and Trade careers with the same fervor used over the last few decades promoting 4 year college degrees. I don’t believe students or their parents appreciate the opportunities that await them in this area. It is the board’s responsibility to address this dynamic and see it changed to the benefit of our students and their families.


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Alexandria Sands
Alexandria Sands
Alexandria Sands is a journalist covering New Hanover County and education. Before Port City Daily, she reported for the award-winning State Port Pilot in Southport. She graduated from UNC Charlotte and wrote for several Charlotte publications while there. When not writing, Williams is most likely in the gym, reading or spending time with her Golden Pyrenees. Reach her at alexandria@localdailymedia.com or on Twitter @alexsands_

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