By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
GOP holds debate for BOE candidates
Opinions mixed on grading systesm, school start times
Placeholder Image
Forsyth County News
The Forsyth County Republican Party held a debate for Board of Education candidates Thursday night.
Incumbents Nancy Roche, board chairwoman, squared off with challenger Tim Plotner, while Tom Cleveland, board vice chairman, faced Ed Castle.
District 4 representative Ronnie Pinson is not seeking re-election. Fletcher McCone and Darla Sexton Light are vying for the Republican nomination for Pinson's vacant post.
Democratic candidate, Sheila Elliott, seeking the District 4 post, was not invited to the forum.
The debate was divided by district and not all candidates received the same questions.
Moderator Joel Natt said the questions were generated by the local Republican Party.
In District 5, Roche and Plotner differed on whether rules regarding public participation at board meetings should be changed.
Currently, anyone who wants to speak before the board has to sign up two days in advance.
"Absolutely, this needs to change," Plotner said. "Any tax-paying citizen should be able to walk through the door at a school board meeting."
The policy, enacted under former superintendent Paula Gault, Roche explained, can offer a chance for concerns to be addressed outside meetings.
"It gave her a couple of days to actually call the person on the phone and most of the time the issue was resolved," Roche said. "Most of the time these issues can be resolved."
District 4 candidates Light and McCone agree on several areas, including modifying school start times and supporting charter schools.
But they disagree on the standards-based grading known as the "1-2-3 grading system." Under the system, students receive a "3" if they meet or exceed the standards, the equivalent of an "A."
It has been implemented for kindergarten through third-grade and piloted for the fourth-grade students at seven local schools.
"I personally am against the 1-2-3 grading system on all levels. I do not think it is fair to the children," McCone said.
Light argued it should be used in kindergarten through second grade. "It gives parents a better idea of where their child stands and what they need to work on."
District 3 candidates Cleveland and Castle were asked about school start times.
Some elementary schools begin as early as 7:40 a.m. while others start at 8:20 a.m. Middle schools end as late as 4:15 p.m. and high schools let out at 3:40 p.m.
"The issue we're going to have to look at is efficiency," Cleveland said. "I would love to see us all go at the same time."
Castle said "family time" is affected by staggered school start and end times. "I am appalled that our youngest children are at bus stops at 6:30 in the morning," he said.