Name as it appears on the ballot: Bill Fletcher
Party affiliation: Unaffiliated
Campaign website: BillFletcher4SchoolBoard.com
Occupation & employer: Real estate agent at Keller Williams Realty Cary
1. What do you believe are the three most important issues facing the Board of Education? What are your priorities for addressing these issues?
- Safely re-open schools for face-to-face teaching and learning.
- Support academic recovery strategies for all students including soliciting the State for more financial support for counselors, social workers and nurses in schools.
- Support strategies so all children will read at or above grade level.
2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be an effective Board of Education member? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.
- I’ve been admitted to the Council of Champions by the National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading for my persistent advocacy for early grade literacy.
- I lead a before-school reading program, Read-A-Book, Get-A-Book, that serves low income struggling readers.
- I led the school board to adopt Goal 2003 – that students in grades 3 and 8 would read and do math at or above grade level. The district reached 91.3% and closed the racial reading gap.
- I helped set the current goal of having 95% of students graduate in 4 years. The district just reached 90.8% and the academic growth of minority groups is outpacing their majority peers.
- I have been elected to the school board six times and wish to continue to serve.
3. Research suggests that North Carolina’s schools are becoming more segregated by race and economic status. What do you think is driving this trend, and do you think this is an issue WCPSS needs to address? Please explain your answer.
- There are several contributing factors including housing costs, exclusionary zoning practices, lack of economic mobility and the expansion of charter schools.
- Wake schools is addressing the issue with renewed commitment to be the “first choice and best choice” academically for all families including new magnet themes in new areas of the county.
4. What effects do you believe the popularity of charter schools is having on the school system? Is it exacerbating segregation or draining resources from neighborhood schools, as some critics contend?
- Most charters are racially identifiable. Of the 20 or so elementary charters in Wake, only four have a diverse enrollment.
- Charters receive funding based on the average per pupil funding of the school district. That school district provides numerous specialized services to meet students’ needs – specialized instruction and therapies, transportation and meal service among others – that charters do not provide. The real cost of providing services to an “average student” who does not need specialized services is about $5,000. Yet charters get the average PP$ which is more than $9000. Their cost is $5,000/student and their revenue is $9,000/. Yes, charters are taking money from students in the public system.
5. In light of the ongoing threat of COVID-19, do you believe it is safe for students to return to the classroom? What policies or protocols should be put in place to ensure the health and safety of students? If remote learning must continue in some form in the future, what can be done to ensure students are still receiving a quality education?
- Our students are engaged now in quality online instruction and learning. We all want students and teachers back in the classroom. Assuring the health and safety of staff and students is foundational to our re-opening plan.
- The Wake board engaged the Duke Medical Center ABC Science Collaborative to advise on how best to restart in-person school. They recommended phasing in students so that new safety protocols may be taught and applied along with adherence to the 3Ws – Wait, Wash and Wear a mask.
- Buildings must be cleaned twice a day. Buses must be cleaned between each route.
- Social distancing minimums and group size maximums must be followed. All must wear a cloth mask.
- Our goal is to ensure compliance by building a community mindset that “I can contribute to a healthy school by my choices. So, I will abide by the 3 W’s.”
6. Do you support the placement of school resource officers in Wake schools? If so, what do you think their role should be? If not, what do you propose as an alternative?
- I do support having well-trained SRO’s in our schools. SROs are not in school to enforce school rules; administrators and teachers do that. SROs provide a resource for students who need to share concerns and to support administration when a law is broken.
- According to one Cary principal “SROs help us keep campus safe. They help us reduce the number of charges, not increase them. Without them, I’d have to call patrol officers for certain offenses and they don’t know me or my students.”
7. Black students make up about a quarter of Wake County public school students, yet, according to the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, are nearly eight times more likely to be suspended than their white peers. Are racial disparities an issue you think the board of education needs to address?
- Yes. And we are…with additional implicit bias training for all staff, circle time where differences can be talked about and accepted, additional alterative learning strategies to meet students where they are.
- The District’s number of suspensions has declined significantly, and we continue to work on the disparate discipline numbers.
8. Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some points with voters.
- Re-opening schools.
- Supporting SROS in schools.
- Supporting strategies to reduce socio-economic and racial isolation.
Comment on this questionnaire at email@example.com.
Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle.