02/06/04 — School board incumbents

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School board incumbents

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 6, 2004 2:02 PM

Three school board members have announced they will seek re-election for another four-year term. Pete Gurley, Shirley Sims and Thelma Smith's terms end in November.

The filing period is scheduled to start Monday.

Pete Gurley, chairman of the Board of Education, has been the at-large member for seven years. He said he feels he has accomplished a lot in that time but that there are still many unfinished areas he wants to see completed.

"All of our schools met their expected growth this past year," he said. "Over two-thirds of schools met high growth. However, I will not be satisfied until all of our schools reach this level."

He said that he and the school board have taken the program very seriously and supported the central office staff and the schools in it. He also said he had worked to improve central Goldsboro schools.

"We are closing the education gap in our central attendance area, which is something that I have been very interested in and feel I have made a contribution to this success," he said. "I would like to see this gap close completely and will work to this end."

He said he supports working with the county commissioners to secure money to supplement teachers' salaries, at least to keep par with some of the neighboring counties.

"We are losing entirely too many of our good teachers to other units," he said. "I have supported it in the past and plan to push hard for this in the future."

He said he also supports incentives to recruit new teachers and particularly favors additional incentives to recruit and retain teachers in central Goldsboro.

He also said he would work diligently with the commissioners to implement a plan to fund a school construction program.

Before joining the board, Gurley was an educator for 35 years, 20 of those as assistant superintendent for facilities and construction, during which the school system went through several building programs. He said the experience provided him with the expertise to be a valuable asset in building short- and long-term facilities plans.

Mrs. Smith serves District 3, which includes a portion of the Goldsboro schools. She says her bid for a third term will allow her to continue her commitment to providing a quality education for all the children in Wayne County.

"This commitment to educate and support children was perpetuated as a classroom teacher for 33 years and a guidance counselor for seven years," she said.

She said those 40 years of experience confirmed her belief in children and their abilities to achieve and her desire to support their efforts and encourage them to succeed. That includes supporting parents, teachers and administrators, and working with the Board of Education to provide school improvements in every area of the county because they "are the fair and right things to do."

"My support of education for children goes far beyond the boundaries of the Board of Education," she said. "Daily, I am available to parents and students who may need help in other aspects of their education."

She said her community service through Dillard-Goldsboro Alumni has provided a way to strengthen her efforts to educate children during and beyond elementary and high school. As national scholarship chairman and member of its board of directors, she oversees the awarding of scholarships for college-bound students. To date, she said more than $280,000 has been contributed.

She also works in tutorial and after-school enrichment programs for students who need encouragement and motivation to learn.

Ms. Sims is seeking her fourth term on the board, representing District 2 in southern Wayne. She said that she thought long and hard about running again but several issues prompted her to continue.

She cited the new community high schools that have been proposed and federal legislation as two of the most pressing areas.

Earlier this week, she attended the National School Board Association's annual Federal Relations Network meeting in Washington, D.C. She said she is especially committed to working with issues as they relate to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and No Child Left Behind.

"I had an opportunity to talk with our congressional body and have made statements of concern as far as Wayne County public schools is concerned," she said. "I'm anticipating a response from them in the future."

Ms. Sims had an extensive career in education before her retirement. She graduated from Carver High School and lives in Dudley but says her commitment extends across the county.

"I have experiences in every community in Wayne County public schools and am committed to the whole county," she said.

Her first teaching job was at Dudley Elementary School, now Brogden Primary, followed by a stint as assistant principal at Rosewood School, which was then a K-12 school. She also taught for one year at West Elm Street School and was director of Title I funds and special programs at the central schools office when she retired.

She said she has worked to serve her district and the entire school system for the last 12 years on the school and would like to continue to give that kind of support to the total school community. Still, she said it was a difficult decision to run because of the recent city election that resulted in a recount.

"With all the problems around the last election, I hesitated to run," she said. "It bothered me that the political climate is at such a low ebb at this time in Wayne County when it ought to be at its peak."

She said that many residents have encouraged her to announce her candidacy and said that she looks forward to a positive campaign.

"I will never be able to thank my supporters enough for what they have done to give me the strength, courage and the fortitude to move forward to work for the boys and girls in Wayne County schools," she said. "I certainly hope that I have demonstrated the trust that they have put in me.

"They can be assured that I will continue to give it my all as I have in the past."