Wednesday, February 8, 2023

2022 Primary Election: Randy Fennell runs for Brunswick County Board of Education

BRUNSWICK COUNTY ⁠— Randy Fennell, a Republican, is campaigning to serve Brunswick County Schools in the District 5 board seat.

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

Fennell’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?
Randy Fennell (RF): I have 3 major concerns for our educational system in BC. Teacher retention is critical. Teachers are leaving the profession in huge numbers. We must find a way to attract the brightest teachers from the applicant pool to Brunswick County and keep them here. The students suffer when teaching slots have to be filled by long term substitutes. School safety is another major interest of mine. It is just a matter of time before a terrible tragedy happens at one of our schools in BC. We have got to stay ahead of the curve with school safety. The third issue that is on my radar continuing to keep divisive, progressive curriculums out of our classrooms. CRT and others have no place in our schools and if elected, I will never promote them. I have 32 years experience as a teacher, coach and administrator in BC. I know and understand the system and how it works. I will be able to hit the ground running if elected to address the current issues and challenges faced by the school board. I am the only candidate with educational experience running for this position in District 5.

PCD: How would you describe the current and past leadership’s management of the Covid-19 pandemic in schools?  What is your stance on how the board should weigh public health into its decisions?
RF: The Covid-19 pandemic has created many challenges for our students. We still do not know all the repercussions that will come from this in the future. The lost instructional time, social/emotional stress and special events may never be recovered but as educators we must find ways to improve these things in the future. In most cases during the pandemic, the BC school Board had their hands tied by state governmental mandates. I do not agree with mask mandates but am not opposed to masks. It should be a person’s decision to mask or not.

PCD: What is your opinion on the district’s current salaries and staff morale? What changes would you advocate for, if any, and how so?
RF: The teacher shortage has got to be addressed from two angles. The state has got to improve the pay and incentives for our teachers. They have taken away many of things that use to attract people to the profession like retirement insurance, a great retirement plan and longevity pay. The teacher shortage has also got to be attacked from the local level. Brunswick County has got to incentivize the local supplements so we can stop the massive migration of teachers to other counties that offer better local pay. I have been in the school system for 32 years and I would say teacher morale is at an all-time low. More and more responsibility and lack of support from admin with discipline issues is creating a below standard work environment.

PCD: Are community members, parents and staff members adequately heard? How can the district improve?
RF: Parents and staff are given opportunities to express their concerns in BC. However, it is my plan to try and improve the communication between the school board, schools and parents by having a presence in the schools and attending PTA meetings to listen to the needs of our teachers, students and parents.

PCD: What needs to be done to make schools safer? 
RF: School safety is critical. We must continue to make this a priority before there is a terrible tragedy in the BC school system. More School Resource Officers, a clear bag policy for school and events and better entrance security would be good places to start to improve and maintain school safety.

PCD: How comfortable are you with the way the district uses local funds? 
RF: For the most part, I think BC is frugal with their money. I would like to see an increase in staff supplements as well as an increase in coaches pay.

PCD: What do you think of Brunswick County Schools’ current facilities? Do we need to build new schools to manage population growth?
RF: Brunswick County is the fastest-growing county in the state. Money has got to continue to be allocated to build new classrooms and schools. There are several schools in our county that are overcrowded but our current school board has been working hard to diffuse this issue. I will do the same if elected.


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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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