Name as it appears on the ballot: John Zal
Full legal name, if different:
Date of birth: 12/13/1965
Home address: 4742 Ludwell Brach Ct, Raleigh NC 27612
Mailing address, if different from home:
Campaign Web site:
Occupation & employer: Information Technology
Home phone: 919 786-9933
1. If elected, what are your top priorities for the school board?
My top priority will be to represent the needs and desires of parents. Currently, there is only one parent of a WCPSS student on the Board of Education.
2. What is there in your record as a public official or other experiencee.g., career, community servicethat demonstrates your ability to be effective as a board member? Please be as specific as possible about the relevance of your accomplishments to your goals for the board.
I do not carry the political baggage that any of my opponents do. I have never been involved in politics and have no connections to anyone who provides services to the school system. I do not work for an employer who is heavily involved in school politics. My only motive is to serve the needs of Wake county children and their parents of whom I am one.
3. The Independents mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to the board help further that goal?
I have never been involved in politics and have no connections to anyone who provides services to the school system. I do not work for an employer who is heavily involved in school politics. My only motive is to serve the needs of Wake county children and their parents of whom I am one.
4. Wake schools are known for a commitment to economic diversity, but the goal of having no more than 40 percent of kids eligible for free and reduced meal plans in any school is slipping. Do you think the board should be more rigorous about adhering to its diversity goal? Less rigorous? Or is it getting things about right?
Wake county is a very large geographical area and I do not believe it is reasonable to expect equality across so large an area. I believe if two schools in close proximity to each other are significantly different in economic diversity that is a better way to identify a problem that may need to be addressed.
5. With 7,000-8,000 new students a year and money short, the board adopted a policy of making every new elementary school a year-round school. Do you support that policy? Or, if not, what alternatives would you support to meet the enrollment crunch?
I think we should design all new schools to accommodate a multi-track year round schedule, so we have the flexibility to use them for year round if needed. However, we need to plan to operate new schools on both traditional and year round schedules. I do not foresee traditional schools being eliminated any time soon.
6. Hows the board handling the annual reassignment issue, in your opinion?
They are dealing with difficulties created by trying to force year round schools on parents.
7. Some board members have spoken out in favor of impact fees on new development in Wake County or, alternatively, an Adequate Public Facilities ordinance that would limit residential growth to available school slots. Do you support either idea or both?
No. Its my understanding impact fees would not generate significant revenue. Limiting growth is probably not feasible and when you look at the big picture would probably do more damage than good to the community as a whole. The BOE needs to work out solutions that are acceptable to the Wake County Commissioners and the municipal governments that control growth within Wake County.
8. The Wake Commissioners estimate that $3 billion to $4 billion in additional school bond issues will be needed over the next eight years. But bonds dont happen unless the school board asks. As a board member, can you foresee supporting bond issues of that magnitude? Why or why not?
I like using bonds to fund growth. Bonds spread the cost of building new schools over many years thereby make growth pay for growth. Since Wake County has a good credit rating and long term interest rates are favorable at this time, it seems like proper use of bonds is critical to our success at this time.
9. The school boards goal of having 95 percent of all students achieving at grade level seems to be just out of reach, with past gains now halted. Whats your view of this goal, and how (or whether) to try to reach it?
We need to do our best to help children that are not thriving. Im not sure what is reasonable. Id like to see some emphasis placed on students who are performing well above grade level. We shouldnt spend 90% of our resources on students in the bottom 10%. High performing students need resources too. As a BOE member I would advocate for the needs of all children.
10. What steps, if any, would you advocate to improve educational outcomes for at-risk students and to reduce dropout rates?
WCPSS employs many professionals who know about how to address this problem better than I do. I would work to support those who demonstrate good ideas and good results.