District 2: Farren vs. Dennison
The race for the District 2 seat on the Moore County Board of Education pits two candidates with school board experience.
Incumbent Kathy Farren, who is finishing up her first term on the board, is facing a challenge from Pinehurst resident Ed Dennison.
The District 2 seat is one of two with contested elections Nov. 4. Seats held by current Chairwoman Lorna Clack from District 1 and Bruce Cunningham from District 5 are not contested, and incumbents are running unopposed.
Board of Education members are elected to four-year terms. While candidates running for a specific district have to live in that district, they are elected by all voters.
Farren, who was first elected in 2004, said she is seeking re-election because there is such a big learning curve during the first term that it takes a second one to become a truly productive board member.
"When you first run, you think you know what the school board is all about," she said. "Then you get there and find out, wow, this is nothing like I thought it would be."
Farren, a local business owner, said she initially debated whether to run again after becoming frustrated with the laborious land acquisition process for two new schools that are planned but has since realized how much she enjoys serving.
One of the most important things she has learned through her first term is ensuring that the board does what's best for all of Moore County children. She said she values public input and said that the feedback from the community was a factor in her decision to seek another term.
Dennison, who retired in Pinehurst four years ago, said he is running because he believes he has the best training and skills to help the board achieve its goals. He said he has nine years of experience on the Center Line, Mich., school board, where he served as board president and received numerous awards for his service, including the "president's award of recognition," which he called the "highest one they had."
Dennison describes himself as a "process guy, not an agenda guy" and thinks the board should be "heavily involved" in finding out what the community wants. He stressed the importance of establishing concrete policies, goals, and parameters for the superintendent to execute. He said the current board's goals don't have any objectives or action plans to help achieve them.
He said it is vital for board members to be seen in the community and to stand up for the parents who can't come to board meetings. He said his only agenda is to ensure that all children receive a high school diploma.
Both candidates seem to agree the International Baccalaureate (IB) issue needs to be addressed.
"I believe that when we started IB, we started it incorrectly, and we have spent the [time] since its inception trying to correct it, and we just can't get there," Farren said.
She advocates running IB as the program it is meant to be, which is done elsewhere in the state, including Wake County. She argued that the "a la carte" selection of IB classes goes against what is was designed for. She said advanced placement (AP) courses are for "picking and choosing." Requiring students to enroll in the entire program will also prove if students really want IB or not, she said.
Farren said she is concerned that spending so much money on the upper echelon of students hurts kids on the other end of the spectrum. She said top students have a fallback (AP, honors) if IB isn't available. Other students don't have those options. Farren favors reinstating honors courses in the 11th and 12th grades and believes Pinecrest should give students as many options as possible.
Dennison said he believes that IB has become problematic because board members didn't know what expectations they had for it when it was started.
"When you start a program, you need to know what outcomes you expect from it," he said. "And then, how are you going to measure whether or not it's doings this?"
Dennison said that he doesn't have a position on IB yet because he doesn't know what the board was looking for and how to measure success. He added that he doesn't think board members know either. He said it is important that when the board starts a program, it should be committed to it.
"If you've got a program, you need to stick with the program," he said. "You can't keep monkeying around with it."
Contact John Krahnert III at 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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