Three Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education members to file for re-election
By Sarah Nagem
The three members of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education whose seats are up for grabs this November say they plan to file for re-election.
Bryce Beard, Dr. Jim Emerson and Linda Freeze are all wrapping up their first terms on the board.
Emerson, the current board chairman, represents the eastern district. Beard represents the Salisbury district, while Freeze represents the southeastern region.
Anyone living in those districts can file for the seats beginning at noon today at the county Board of Elections office. The filing period ends Aug. 15.
Beard said he thinks he and his fellow board members up for re-election have seen strides made within the school system.
“I think we’ve all seen improvement,” he said. “We feel better about things than they were when we got on the board.”
Beard, a property manager for Wallace Realty, said he wants to stay on the board as the school system continues to try to reach its goals.
Two important issues, Beard said, are relevancy of education and reducing dropout rates.
“It’s a changing world, and we’ve got to change with it,” he said.
Beard said schools need to prepare students for jobs that are in demand now, like nursing and biotechnology, while also focusing on the basics like math and reading.
As for dropouts, he said, schools need to engage students early on. Kids need to realize that education offers them options in life, he said.
Partnerships are important in reducing dropout rates, Beard said. He thinks the school board needs to continue to foster relationships with organizations like Partners in Education and the faith-based initiative.
Beard is a former chairman of the school board.
Emerson, who worked in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools for 30 years, said he’s pleased with improvements within the Rowan-Salisbury system.
“We’re turning the big ship, and I think we’re starting to make progress.”
Students’ writing and math scores jumped this year, and Emerson said the school system is getting better at communicating with the public.
During the last four years, Emerson said, he has been proud of the construction of new schools, like Jesse Carson High and Shive Elementary.
He’s also proud of recruiting what he calls “excellent” school principals.
If re-elected, Emerson said, he wants to continue to look for a “resolution” to problems at North Rowan High School. The school has seen its enrollment drop, and it’s on the governor’s watchlist of poor-performing schools.
This spring, the school board heard pleas from parents to boost enrollment at North. They say the school can’t compete academically with larger schools, and it will drop to the 1A sports conference in 2009.
But Emerson said boosting enrollment at North is not one of his personal goals.
“I want North to be one of the leaders of smaller high schools,” he said.
He thinks the school has unfairly gotten a bad reputation.
“I want them to be proud of what they’re doing and doing the best job with what they’ve got,” Emerson said.
He said he wants to see improved test scores at the school so it can get off the state’s watchlist.
A new central office for the school system is also on Emerson’s radar if he gets re-elected.
The system’s administration needs a new place to call home because the facility on Long Street is inadequate, Emerson said.
County leaders assured the school board this spring that they will address money issues for building a new facility.
“I don’t know if our relationship with county commissioners has improved much,” he said with a laugh.
“That’s kind of a wait-and-see thing there,” he said of funds for a new building. “I hope it happens, but you never know.”
In the long run, a new central office would save taxpayers money, Freeze said.
“Right now, we’re just scattered everywhere,” said Freeze, who taught at South Rowan High School for 13 years before leaving the system for while. She returned as director of health education and health services.
Freeze is retired, but she has returned to work at Mooresville High School in the in-school suspension program.
During her four years on the board, Freeze said, she’s proud of bringing in Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom.
During another term on the board, Freeze said, she would want to see rising test scores and “continued improvement in our schools.”
Also, she said schools need to focus on struggling students to reduce dropout rates.
“I think we need to capitalize on our career and technical education program,” she said. “I think that helps.”