Donna Williams (R)

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Age: 45
Current Occupation: Full-Time Volunteer
Website: www.donnaforschoolboard.com

How long have you lived in Wake County?

24 years

Do you have children in the district?

All four of my chil­dren did attend District 6 schools. I have seven grand­children. One of them is in a District 6 school.

Why have you decided to run for office?

The last three years I have been paying very close attention to what’s happened with our school board. Two years ago I did help work to get the new four folks elected. At this point in my life, it’s been all about the community the past three years and so I put myself in there be­cause I want to continue the work that’s been start­ed in the past two years. I think we’ve just scratched the surface, and there’s a lot more to do.

What do you think are the best and worst decisions the current school board has made?

There’s been a lot of good decisions. I’m very pleased to see the direc­tion of busing being slowed down a bit and parents be­ing able to send their kids to schools closer to their homes if they choose to. The Renaissance schools, the STEM schools, these things are fabulous. They’ve had budget cuts from the state to deal with. But the way that it’s been handled: Number 1, I’m happy to see we didn’t lose any teacher positions. In fact, there are new teacher positions for this school year. There’s more to do. I don’t think we’re done with this, but I think it’s a good, healthy beginning.

The second part of that question, “what have they not done well?” Com­munication to the pub­lic would be my answer to that. I think they’re doing better, but if I look back to say two years ago … There could have done a bet­ter job coming from the school board itself to ex­plain its position.

What do you think is the most important issue facing your district, and how do you plan to address it?

In District 6, there are a couple of issues. We have two things. One is what’s called the rim schools. These are schools, like for example Carroll Middle School, that are basically right around the Beltline. When they were original­ly built we didn’t have the magnet schools. Then, as the magnet schools were built, their parents opted for the magnet schools, which is wonderful. But, what’s happened to Car­roll is the number of kids who are at­t e n d i n g that school is greatly re­duced right now. That s c h o o l ’ s not getting the dollars in like it would if it were at 100 percent. It’s a vicious cycle going down.

The other thing in Dis­trict 6 is program equity. And with that comes the equality for the children as far as academic courses that are being offered to them. Enloe High School has, I believe it’s 142 mag­net courses that are of­fered. That is incredible and absolutely fabulous for those children, but in the next breath, there’s many schools that don’t even have one.

What do you think WCPSS should do to ad­dress the achievement gap?

I think it’s already be­ing worked on, truly. The EVAAS is fabulous. The one thing I’d like to see is that the parents are receiving this information, because they’re not right now. If a parent gets their report card at the end of the year, they get the EOG reports, but the EVAAS they’re not getting. Why? That doesn’t make sense to me. The plan that’s be­ing proposed at this min­ute will allow every family five options of where there child goes to school. I feel if we give our parents more choice in where their child goes to school, that right there is going to help, be­cause then the par­ent is bet­ter able to be a part of that child’s education.

What are your ideas for measuring and improving teacher and student effectiveness in WCPSS?

All children are differ­ent. It’s one thing to have a standard of how you pass on the test and this and that, but I just think we need to have — and I think the EVAAS program may be able to help with this — a way to really be able to evaluate what’s going on in that classroom.

I do believe there needs to be teacher evaluations. It’s not an easy question, but I do believe it’s some­thing we need to look at. To come down hard on the teachers is not the answer.

Do you support merit pay for teachers? Why or why not?

I do. Absolutely, I do. These teachers are going above and beyond. It hap­pens in the business world all the time. You do a bet­ter job, you’re paid more money. There has to be a way to evaluate it and it’s not necessarily the grades at the end of the year.

How do you think WCPSS should attract more minority teachers?

I think the merit pay. Right there would be a great way. My next door neighbor is a minority teacher, and unfortunate­ly he just walked away from Wake County. He went to another county to teach. That’s sad, especial­ly if you’re talking about a school or classroom that has a larger percentage of minority children.

How do you feel about the new student assignment plan that’s shaping up?

I like it. I like it very much. I believe, number 1, it will give parents much more choice. Number 2, the stability of feeder pat­terns and knowing where their child is going. I think it’s a very healthy plan. I think as we dig into it at greater depth, there may be more parts of it that have to be a bit tweaked, but I really like the direction it’s going.

How do charter schools fit in to your conception of a healthy school district?

Charter schools are still public schools. I think competition is good for anybody, because it helps work to improve things. Charter schools help give parents a choice. Across the nation, 8 percent of children do not attend public-public school. In Wake County, if I have my figures correct, it’s 18 per­cent. That, to me, speaks volumes.

How would you address the issue of student discipline?

Well, remember my age. When I went to school, it was a whole different ball­game than it is today. I am a person who is old school. I do believe that having boundaries and having children know what’s al­lowed and what’s not al­lowed is a very healthy thing. I am a believer in discipline, but certainly I don’t want to go back to when the principal could paddle the kids and all that.

What would you do to ensure that WCPSS has the funding to educate its students adequately?

The first thing is to con­tinue what’s been started the past two years, looking at where the money is go­ing, what is being duplicat­ed? What’s not necessary? We get rid of those ex­penses so we can put extra money in for the children. I think the money is there. I just think we have to take a magnifying glass and say, “All right, what are we do­ing that’s not necessary?”

What was your favorite subject in school?

Math.

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