Five vie for three seats in Granville school board race

Apr. 22, 2014 @ 10:25 AM

OXFORD — Three seats on the Granville County Board of Education will be on the ballot for the May 6 primary election. All three incumbents have filed for re-election. Two faces challenges.

Chairwoman Brenda Dickerson-Daniel is being challenged by Tom Houlihan for the District 2 seat.

Catherine “Rose” Lyon faces Danny Eudy in District 6.

Toney Smith is unopposed for the District 1 seat.

Dickerson-Daniel has served on the board for 11 years. She was vice-chairwoman for seven years until she was elected to chair the board in December 2013.

She cited the decline in the rate of student suspensions and dropouts, rising test scores and graduation rates, use of technology in the schools and the educational choices students are offered as highlights of her tenure on the board, though she noted she was one of seven school board members who helped make these things happen.

On the other hand, Dickerson-Daniel noted the decrease in teacher morale as a result actions taken by the General Assembly and the state Department of Public Instruction.

A second area of concern is funding.

“It’s not only our district,” she said. “Over the last five years, we haven’t had a fund increase in operations.”

Houlihan said he would bring an educator’s perspective to the school board, which would help focus efforts on the needs of the district, beginning with student achievement.

“I’m not being critical of the present board,” he said. “But I believe the board needs an educator on the board. What’s been missing is someone in a position to ask the right questions and get answers. Without that background, a lot of questions are not asked that should be. For example, what are we doing about student achievement?”

Although Houlihan has held a number of professional positions in education, including superintendent of Granville County Schools and executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, he said he is aware of the distinction between policy making and administration, noting the board should not involve itself in the day-to-day administration of the district.

Catherine “Rose” Lyon has held the District 6 seat since 2005, when she was selected to fill a vacant seat on the board. She was re-elected in 2008.

Lyon said the major issues facing the school district are loss of teachers and lack of funds to pay them.

Lyon feels she brings common sense and a parent’s perspective to the board.

She became involved in the schools when her daughter, now a college freshman, was a student in Granville County.

Lyon said the district is working to meet new requirements mandated by the state.

A native of Memphis, Tenn., Lyon has lived in Granville County for 20 years.

“We’re in the middle of a lot of things,” she said to explain her continuing interest in serving on the board. “I’d like to help them along and see them finished.”

Her opponent, Danny Eudy, said he has two major issues causing him to run for the school board: to better the education of all children and to improve teaching conditions for teachers.

He is concerned that some children aren’t learning the basics.

“If a child can’t pick it up, he’s left behind,” he said. “For example, in math if they can’t multiply and divide, they can’t do higher mathematics.”

Eudy is concerned that the emphasis on technology may not be accessible to all students. But he pointed out that laptop computers may actually be a disadvantage for some students if they can’t get online at home.

His concern about working conditions for teachers stems in part from his experience working as a school resource officer.

Mostly, though, Eudy said he wants to see the school board challenge some state mandates.

“I’d like to see the board debate the state,” he said. “If I’m elected, I’m hoping to convince them to look at state requirements instead of sitting and doing nothing. The state says, ‘If you don’t do it, we’ll cut your funding.’ We’ve going to have to pay for education. Education is money. Without money, you can’t educate the children.”

Efforts to contact Toney Smith, the board member representing District 1, were unsuccessful. He is unopposed in his effort to be re-elected.

 

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.