The Moore County Board of Education has been busy the last couple of years. It had voters overwhelmingly approve a rare bond referendum in 2018 to build three new elementary schools; it built a fourth and is finishing a critical expansion at North Moore High School with conventional financing.
Partly as a result of all this construction, the board last year undertook the even rarer challenge of redrawing attendance lines. Most children and families will see no change, but for some the redistricting was concerning and disturbing.
As if that wasn’t enough, the global coronavirus pandemic has turned education upside down, forcing the district to scramble for the latter part of last year and this one on building a new model of delivering education.
Into all this is now thrown an election. Four of the seven school board seats are open, and all are contested. Today’s endorsements feature the District 1 seat, featuring incumbent Stacey Caldwell and challenger Brandon Coleman, and the District 2 seat, featuring incumbent Helena Wallin-Miller and challenger Robert Levy.
In these two races, The Pilot endorses Caldwell for District 1 and Wallin-Miller for District 2.
District 1: Stacey Caldwell
Caldwell, a former elementary school teacher, came on the board in 2015 and won a full four-year term in 2016. A people-pleaser by nature, she’s had to learn that she can’t always accomplish that while in public office.
When it came to redistricting, she voted against the final plan. “But I have to learn to respect that and move on.”
That’s mature growth. Caldwell can sometimes be a quiet presence on the board, but she can also be assertive when needed, especially when it comes to defending the frontline teachers and their needs. And she’s passionate about the needs of military-connected families and their children.
Caldwell is an active listener and a board member willing to put in the behind-the-scenes hours it takes to do this job.
Her opponent, Brandon Coleman, did not make himself available for interview, but we have grave misgivings about him, not the least of which were the criminal charges he faced earlier this year that stem from an ugly domestic custody dispute. A mistrial was declared in that case. Months before Coleman announced his candidacy, he served a 60-day jail sentence for violating a court-ordered custody agreement.
Stacey Caldwell is whom you want for Board of Education District 1.
District 2: Helena Wallin-Miller
Wallin-Miller, who works as a child- and family-policy consultant, joined the board in 2015. She ran unopposed in 2016 and served two terms as chair of the school board.
Wallin-Miller defines dedicated leadership. She brings competence, confidence and thoughtfulness to her work.
On her watch, Wallin-Miller spearheaded the construction of four elementary schools, the passage of the bond referendum to finance three of them, and the redrawing of the attendance lines necessitated by the new buildings. Through all of these initiatives, Wallin-Miller has displayed the calmness and professionalism that we should expect from our leaders.
Student achievement is commensurate with faculty morale. And, Wallin-Miller has been at the forefront of increasing this important metric — teacher satisfaction. She joined the board amid one of the lowest points of employee morale and has not forgotten the chaos that comes from ignoring the needs of the schools’ staffers.
Bob Levy brings an intellectual curiosity and fairness to his campaign. A retired attorney and Moore County Schools substitute teacher, the likable Levy would do well on the school board, if he could just get out of the way of his at-times overheated rhetoric. We think Levy is capable of doing that and wish he were running in another district or against a lesser candidate than Wallin-Miller.
Above all, members of the school board should be champions of public education. By her words and deeds, Wallin-Miller fits that bill. We offer her our wholehearted endorsement.