Incumbent Joey Haynes and challenger Phillip Berrier are vying for the Fancy Gap District seat on the Carroll County School Board. In today’s edition of The Carroll News, they answer five questions posed by staff writers.
What role do you see St. Paul Elementary School playing in the future of the Carroll County School System?
Berrier - St. Paul was enlarged in the recent renovation to include grades K-8; however, the present school board made the decision to allow the 6th and 7th graders to attend the middle school in Hillsville if they desired. I’ve opposed this decision from day one and would not have voted for this if I’d been on the board. St Paul needs to remain a K-7 school for Southern Carroll with the same curriculum as the middle school. The mountain and long ride to Hillsville prevent a safe transport of these youngsters, a long trek for parents, and overcrowded buses and unsafe conditions. St. Paul is a community school for the area and should remain a vibrant part of the community. Don’t close down the only school left in Southern Carroll, as you did at Lambsburg and Mt. Bethel.
Haynes - St. Paul School will be operated into the future and will not be shut down. Any statement by my opponent that my goal is to allow St .Paul to be closed is ridiculous and irresponsible. St.Paul is a top notch school that has provided exceptional educational opportunities to the children of the Cana community for decades. Both myself and my son attended St. Paul, as did all of my family for the past several decades. The teachers and staff there are exceptional and over the past few years I have had the opportunity to witness their relationship with the community both inside and outside of the classroom. I am dedicated to seeing the building at St. Paul kept in top condition as I have worked to be sure that proper custodial staff are provided to the building. Additionally, the building is getting a new roof and a study is being performed that could convert one of the school’s boilers to a wood pellet burning system that could be fired by local providers of fuel while offering, over time, a significant savings in fuel cost. New security equipment has been installed with grant money received during my time in office to help guarantee that our children are safe and that the building is secure. St. Paul school will always be a priority school given its central location and its importance to the Cana community. St. Paul has been and continues to be the nerve center for the Cana community for so many other important and necessary events and functions that it can never be allowed be taken from US, the taxpayers of Cana. Regrettably, my opponent seconded the vote to create a combined Carroll County Middle School for grades 6-8 while also closing Woodlawn School. I pledge to fight and be a voice for keeping St. Paul school staffed, funded and the continued focal point of the Cana and Lambsburg communities. Despite my opponent’s vote to establish a combined Carroll County Middle School for grades 6-8, I am pleased to have secured the right for parent to choose where their 6th and 7th graders will attend school and encourage all parents to exercise this. If my opponent truly never intended to move 6th and 7th graders from St. Paul to Carroll County Middle School then he should not have voted to spend millions of tax payer dollars to make room for these students.
What do you see as the biggest need for Carroll County schools?
Berrier - Carroll County has a great school system with many good teachers; however, we need to attract the brightest and best teachers, and hang on to them and not permit the surrounding counties to steal them from us. From my own experiences as a student and teacher, I realize that nothing impacts a student’s life as much as a quality teacher. We need to hire super teachers, pay them adequate salaries, and good things will happen. And, we need to eliminate the weak teachers who continue to teach with inferior results. Great teachers make a school system great. Fancy Gap Elementary and St. Paul have been Blue Ribbon schools with great test scores. Many have said they’re the best in the county, and I plan on keeping them on top.
Haynes - Carroll County Public Schools are blessed with excellent teachers who are dedicated to providing our students the highest level of education. My first two years on the Board have been spent largely on cleaning up problems and budgetary effects from Phase III Construction. I anticipate that we will need to continue to dedicate much of our time to that issue. However, I believe the biggest need in coming years will be making certain our children are safe at school. This is why I worked hard to obtain security systems at the main entrance of our schools. We still have work to do, especially in keeping 9th graders at CCHS safe as they walk between buildings. I will continue to work hard to make sure are children are kept safe. Another issue of concern is continuing efforts by the state and federal governments to control our student’s education through SOL testing and pressure to adopt a core curriculum. I will strongly oppose these efforts because I believe that the best people to make decisions about a student’s education are the student’s parents and teachers, not the government.
Do you think enough is being invested in technology education?
Berrier - The Stem Academy was a great advancement in technology in Carroll County; now, we need to fund it and get the programs in place to meet the challenges of the 21st century. That is the only way to overcome the shortcomings we face in the technological race with the rest of the world. We must prepare our students to compete worldwide in this new world economic order. Purchase every student a laptop to take home like our neighboring state. We cannot fail our youngsters or our future is bleak.
Haynes - I believe that our school system provides the best technology educational experience that our taxpayers can afford. Additionally, our school system is very diligent in pursuing any grants or other programs that offer the opportunity for our schools to offer new and innovative technology training to our students. Our instructors do an excellent job with the programs they teach and that success is reflected by the success of our students. We must temper investment in technology with the needs of our students and under no circumstances lose sight of the fact that the relationship between the teacher and he student in the classroom still remains the most critical component of the educational process.
What would be your main focus as a member of the Carroll County School Board?
Berrier - My main focus as a board member will be to move Carroll County forward within our budgetary limits. I will do all that I can to learn and keep focused on innovations and improvements in the teaching/learning arena, and how we can implement new ideas and trends without increasing our budget so much it impacts the tax structure. In this the 21st century, we must strive for greater achievement with less funding. This is quite a challenge for all educators and educational leaders.
Haynes - I will continue to work hard to provide the best educational opportunity that we can for our school children at the lowest cost to taxpayers. I remain focused on making sure that the two schools in my district, St. Paul and Fancy Gap, remain properly funded, staffed and above all else, strong centerpieces of their communities. Additionally, I will continue to push for curriculum independence in the face of the ongoing government regulation. We cannot continue to “teach the test.”
Why do you think you are more qualified to serve on the school board than your opponent?
Berrier - I believe that I am the best qualified candidate in the Fancy Gap District because of my experience in education and in business. As a teacher and principal, I learned to deal with people in all kinds of situations that impact education. I was only 24 years old when I became principal, so I had a lot of on the job training. As I went to graduate school, I would implement some of the theories being taught at Radford University: some worked, and some flopped, but I grew in wisdom and leadership during this time and the end result was a better leader and educator. My years in business have taught me how to survive as a small businessman and the importance of budgets and self-reliance; thus, my life’s experiences cannot be taught in a classroom or learned any other way. I can honestly say that I’ve been there and done that, and my opponent cannot.
Haynes - In the last two years I have worked to return the school systems focus to the children. I have proven that a parent such as myself can make a difference. I am not a career bureaucrat like my opponent in the Carroll County School System. I approach this job each day with the viewpoint of a parent and taxpayer. I have worked extremely hard and dedicated myself to being a good steward of the trust and confidence of the people I represent. This election is about much more than a counting the number of years that a candidate has been an educational insider. The position of school board representative requires much more than mere educational experience. The people of Fancy Gap need a board member who will represent their needs, not someone who has spent years telling them what is best for their children.