I grew up in the Shanghai community between Shelby and Boiling Springs and I am a 1985 graduate of Crest High School and a 1989 graduate of NC State University with a BS degree in Aerospace Engineering. After college, I worked ten years in civil service with the US Navy/Marine Corps designing and implementing structural modifications and repairs to C-130 Hercules and V-22 Osprey aircraft.
In 1999, I returned to Shelby and started a custom residential construction business with my brothers. In 2006, I moved into the design side of residential construction and provide structural framing plans for high-end custom homes in multiple states. In addition to my structural engineering business, I also design, build, and distribute automated fuel additive dispensing equipment. A true entrepreneur at heart, I have a couple other businesses in development.
My wife, Connie, and I have been married 24 years. Our daughter, Rachel, is a sophomore at NC State majoring in accounting. Our son, Jared, is a senior at Crest. We attend Mt. Sinai Baptist Church where I've had the opportunity to serve as a deacon, Sunday School teacher, and oversaw construction of our new sanctuary. In the community, I've been a member of Shanghai Fire Department for 32 years and serve on the board of directors for Hog Happnin', which raises money for the Children's Homes of Cleveland Co.
1. Why are you running for school board?
I am running for school board because I think the school system can be managed and operated much better than it is now. I have attended board meetings for two years and have seen how the school system functions and doesn't function.
The school board needs to exercise more oversight of the superintendent and administration. The NC general statutes list around 60 powers and duties for local school boards. It appears much of these powers and duties have been delegated to the administration and the board is not taking full responsibility themselves.
The board and administration need to be more responsive and transparent with the public. I've seen many folks bring concerns or questions to the board. They do not get a complete answer or are ignored altogether. After two years, I still have many questions that the board refuses to answer.
The board and administration need to cooperate with our elected officials in Raleigh. I would take full advantage of the fact that the Speaker of the House is from Cleveland Co. We have an excellent opportunity to influence education legislation and funding at the State level. We need to work with these officials instead of editorializing against them during board meetings.
2. What are the big issues the school board will face in the next four years?
There has been quite a bit of instructional data presented during board meetings and the Closing the Gap conference. Our four high schools only have a Grade Level Proficiency of 46%-65% and a College & Career Readiness of 36%-54% yet our average graduation rate is 86%. It would appear that many of our graduates are not proficient or college/career ready. While there are many ways to represent the data and explain it away, it is a disservice to our children if we as a school system don't prepare them for the college or career they seek. The board needs to determine where the problem is with low GLP and CCR and fix the issue.
Another issue will be rebuilding the public trust with the school board and administration. This can only be done with full transparency of board actions with the public.
3. What are we doing right in the Cleveland Co Schools?
Students and teachers are the bright spot in Cleveland County Schools. Our top students compete for and are awarded millions of dollars of scholarships each year. Students also perform well in vocational courses and the arts.
The teachers I have talked to really care about their students. They are interested in developing students both academically and personally. These teachers are engaged and do all they can to help students be successful.
What are we doing wrong?
Much of this is answered in the previous questions. It all rolls up into accountability. Students should be accountable to teachers, teachers to the administrators, administrators to the superintendent, the superintendent to the board, and the board to the taxpayers.