Any school board member in North Carolina must be able to make the best out of a bad situation. Times are hard for public schools with state lawmakers bent to bankroll tax cuts. With four seats available on the Orange County Schools Board of Education, this year's election is a pivotal one for determining the direction of the seven-member board.
Of the six candidates, incumbents Donna Coffey and Brenda Stephens are easy choices, and we endorse them. Both understand the challenges of shrinking a troubling achievement gap among students despite facing harsh funding cuts from the N.C. General Assembly. And with a recent report pegging North Carolina teacher pay at a lowly 46th in the nation, Coffey and Stephens will stand up for teachers as best they can. A solid third choice is Rosa Williams, a city of Durham billing manager who cites closing the achievement gap and promoting literacy programs as top priorities.
It gets more difficult from there. Of the remaining candidates, Greg Andrews did not respond to an INDY questionnaire explaining his platform. Meanwhile, Michael Hood is a retired computer industry worker who promises strict fiscal controls. When one considers the tight financial straits already imposed by state lawmakers, it's an alarming platform. Thus, we give our final nod to Tom Carr, a retired counselor from Orange County Schools who understands the plight of schoolteachers and the realities of local public schools.