School board race draws three on opening day
There were no surprises Monday when it came to candidates filing to run for school board.
Incumbents Omega Curtis Parker and Natalie Beyer and newcomer Matt Sears have all said in recent weeks that they planned to be among those to sign up when the filing period opened.
As it turns out, Beyer, Parker and Sears were the only three school board candidates Monday to file for election. They are seeking three of the four seats up for grabs May 6.
The filing period opened Monday at noon and will close Feb. 28 at noon.
Parker, a retired Durham Public Schools media coordinator, is seeking re-election to the District 1 seat she has held since 2006.
She said raising the achievement level of students attending DPS schools will be a top priority if she is re-elected.
“It’s an ongoing concern,” Parker said.
Parker said teachers also deserve more support from the school district.
“I would like to be able to provide support for teachers by providing resources so they can do what they were hired to do,” Parker said.
She also cited lowering the suspension rate and increasing the graduation rates among her top priorities.
Sears, director for school services at North Carolina New Schools (NCNS) and a former Durham educator, said paying teachers a fair wage will be a goal if he is elected to the school board.
“I think we can do something locally to show teachers we support them and value the profession,” said Sears, noting Gov. Pat McCrory’s announcement Monday that he will lobby colleagues in the legislature to increase pay for some teachers over the next two years.
Sears is seeking election to the District 3 board seat currently held by Nancy Cox, who is not running for re-election.
The District 2 seat held by Fredrick Davis is also up for grabs. Davis has also said he will not seek re-election.
Sears added that providing students with a great education is a top priority and that his experience in the educational arena has prepared him to contribute to the superintendent’s search, hold DPS leadership accountable and set policies that are informed by research.
Beyer, a school and community volunteer who works part time for Smith and Associates in Durham, said she is seeking re-election to continue efforts to make Durham a “great place to live, learn and work.”
“It’s important to make sure students are challenged and work to recruit and retain talented teachers,” said Beyer, who has represented District 4 since 2010.
Beyer is also a volunteer board member for Public Schools First NC, a statewide nonpartisan organization focused on education issues, and a founding member of Parents Across America, a national grassroots education advocacy organization.
The school board election comes amid a search for a new superintendent to replace Eric Becoats who resigned under pressure in December after several high-profiled missteps.
The board hasn’t decided whether the current board or the one elected in May will hire the next superintendent.