02/05/08 — Gurley decides not to run again

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Gurley decides not to run again

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 5, 2008 2:06 PM

School board member Pete Gurley will not seek re-election for another term, citing health problems as a contributing factor.

The at-large representative made his official announcement during Monday evening's school board meeting, saying it was with "mixed emotions" that he reached the decision.

"I have enjoyed it," he said. "I hope we have made the decisions that have been right for the children."

Gurley, of Mount Olive, has served on the board for the past 12 years. Wayne County Public Schools has always been a big part of his life, first as a student and then the bulk of his 36-year career as a teacher, coach, principal and assistant superintendent.

"There have been very few issues in the last 10 years that we haven't unanimously agreed upon," he said. "During my 12 years on the board, it has been composed of educators, astute business people, engineers, CPA, agri-business people and contractors. What more could you ask for? We have always had our students first and foremost in our minds."

The experience has not been without its "bumpy" times, he said, citing two main areas that have been at the forefront -- education and school construction.

Gurley said he believes great strides have been made in the county's educational system, particularly in the areas of testing, graduation and dropout rates, while noting that there is still work to be done.

"We have the programs in place for any student to leave our school system with a well-rounded education," he said.

Admitting that it's been disappointing to hear such comments about the "need to fix the problems with our educational system," he said, "I feel this is often brought about due to the fact that we are remiss in not advertising the many good things going on in our educational system. We need to do a better job promoting all of our accomplishments."

Gurley said he only wishes more could have been done to complete the building program in the school system.

"I am grateful for the $23 million recently appropriated by our county commissioners," he said. "However, it should be noted that $18 million of this total amount is coming from our state lottery money. This obligated all of our lottery money for the next 20 years. There is very little ad valorem (property tax) for this phase."

With another $70 million needed for the current list of building needs, he suggested other sources of income will have to be generated for school construction and expressed the hope that a state bond referendum would be passed.

"Hopefully, the people in Wayne County will not allow the many school facility needs in our county to be postponed or forgotten any longer," he said. "We are proud of the accomplishments we have made but there is much more that needs to be done."

As the filing date for his seat and other boards is looming, Gurley said it has been interesting to hear what seems to be on everyone's minds.

"Every incumbent, every person that has filed or is going to file, the first thing out of their mouth has been education," he said. "I would really like for the people of Wayne County to make sure this is true."

Serving on the board has been a pleasure, he said.

"Hopefully I have helped make a difference in some way. I will continue to strive to be the very best board member I can be during my remaining 10 months," he said.