Ron Margiotta (R)

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Age: 72
Occupation: Retired
Website: www.ronmargiotta.org

How long have you lived in Wake County? 11 years

Do you have children in the district?

Previously a grandson

Why have you decided to run for office?

[My grandson] is the reason I became inter­ested in the school board, because of the assignment policies that my grandson went through. I think he was reassigned three times in a four-year period. If he would’ve remained in the public schools, he would’ve been reassigned in middle school and high school, so my daughter pulled him out of the public school system. That’s what got me involved and concerned about what I consider to be a failure of our public school system.

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

One of the problems we’ve had is trying to get our accomplishments and initiatives out through the media. As an example, I have six pages, typewritten pages, of our accomplish­ments and initiatives that we’ve brought forth. We’ve accomplished more in my opinion in the past two years for the children in this county and families in this county than I’ve seen in the past five, six years all combined.

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

Assignment has been an important issue not just in my district but across the county. We in my district were one of the first hit because of the growth in this county. We suffered to a great extent with the implementation of man­datory, year-round schools, with the assignment plans that claimed that it was just done for the sake of filling schools. But, they went far beyond just filling schools.

We had a major reassign­ment plan four or five years ago. Only 60 percent of those students reassigned were needed to fill the opening of new schools. The other 40 percent had to do with moving kids for the sake of diversity, which is certainly something that I and the new school board are turning around right now. We’re taking all necessary steps to make sure all students are going to be served well. We have an extreme emphasis on the classroom, on achieve­ment for every student in this county.

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

We have me a s u r e ­ments based upon what we see in re­sults. What we’re going to see in im­proving the test scores. I’d like to see us move beyond the state’s end-of-grade test­ing program and get us into some national testing program like Iowa’s. Let’s not compare ourselves just with North Carolina, be­cause I think we here in Wake County should be the best of the state, be­cause of the intellectual level of the community. I’d like to compare us to the rest of the country so we measure up against what might be considered some of the best across the country.

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

I certainly do. This pi­lot program that we’re in­stituting is performance pay … at the Renaissance schools. That’s going to be a big part of increasing the performance at that school.

How do you think WCPSS should attract more minority teachers?

I think our superinten­dent of schools has reached out. The problem is, there just isn’t a great pool of them out t h e r e . But, our s u p e r ­i n t e n ­dent has r e a c h e d out for the first time in a numbe r of years.

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

It still needs some fine-tuning, but I feel very op­timistic that the final re­sult will be one that will be acceptable. Some things are never acceptable to ev­eryone. But to the great majority of school board members and the Wake County community, be­cause it’s going to be based primarily on proxim­ity, choice and, extremely important, stability. Once a child gets into a school that child is going to stay there and knows that he will not be reassigned out of that school, even if a new school opens. That new school will not be opened by assignment. It will be opened by appli­cation and by choice. We have an obligation. Schools are parts of communities and communities are parts of schools, we have to make that happen.

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

This is one of the prob­lems I’ve had here in Wake County for many years — not specifically charter schools, but with the mar­ket share that we in Wake County have lost. Even with this present economy, the percentage of children outside the public school system is between 17 and 18 percent. We are los­ing in many cases the best and the brightest from our school system. What we have to do is make this school system so acces­sible that we bring back these students to our pub­lic school system or we’re going to be in big trouble here in Wake County in the next 10 years. Try to get in to a charter school. You get in by a lottery sys­tem. They all have waiting lists 3- and 4,000 on their waiting list. That’s a sad commentary on our public school system. The biggest part of people wanting to leave this school system has been the assignment policy over these past number of years, because you never know where you’re going to school. But, I welcome competition. Having com­petition makes you better.

How would you address the issue of student discipline?

Although we are lessen­ing the suspension rates, we will still have to be careful that we are main­taining discipline within our schools, because that would only work against us if that didn’t happen. We can do both. We can maintain discipline, but at the same time if we push a child out of school for an entire year, that child is usually gone forever.

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

I’ve said for many years, the state of North Caroli­na is not the greatest fund­ing mechanism for pub­lic schools, when you look around at other parts of the country. I come from the Northeast; that part of the country probably spends double per pupil. At the present time, we’re going through a very diffi­cult economy. At the pres­ent time, I think we have an obligation to play the cards you’re dealt. In this present budget year, we had a shortfall of approxi­mately $64 million.

What was your favorite subject in school?

History

How long have you lived in Wake County? 11 years

Do you have children in the district?

Previously a grandson

Why have you decided to run for office?

[My grandson] is the reason I became inter­ested in the school board, because of the assignment policies that my grandson went through. I think he was reassigned three times in a four-year period. If he would’ve remained in the public schools, he would’ve been reassigned in middle school and high school, so my daughter pulled him out of the public school system. That’s what got me involved and concerned about what I consider to be a failure of our public school system.

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

One of the problems we’ve had is trying to get our accomplishments and initiatives out through the media. As an example, I have six pages, typewritten pages, of our accomplish­ments and initiatives that we’ve brought forth. We’ve accomplished more in my opinion in the past two years for the children in this county and families in this county than I’ve seen in the past five, six years all combined.

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

Assignment has been an important issue not just in my district but across the county. We in my district were one of the first hit because of the growth in this county. We suffered to a great extent with the implementation of man­datory, year-round schools, with the assignment plans that claimed that it was just done for the sake of filling schools. But, they went far beyond just filling schools.

We had a major reassign­ment plan four or five years ago. Only 60 percent of those students reassigned were needed to fill the opening of new schools. The other 40 percent had to do with moving kids for the sake of diversity, which is certainly something that I and the new school board are turning around right now. We’re taking all necessary steps to make sure all students are going to be served well. We have an extreme emphasis on the classroom, on achieve­ment for every student in this county.

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

We have me a s u r e ­ments based upon what we see in re­sults. What we’re going to see in im­proving the test scores. I’d like to see us move beyond the state’s end-of-grade test­ing program and get us into some national testing program like Iowa’s. Let’s not compare ourselves just with North Carolina, be­cause I think we here in Wake County should be the best of the state, be­cause of the intellectual level of the community. I’d like to compare us to the rest of the country so we measure up against what might be considered some of the best across the country.

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

I certainly do. This pi­lot program that we’re in­stituting is performance pay … at the Renaissance schools. That’s going to be a big part of increasing the performance at that school.

How do you think WCPSS should attract more minority teachers?

I think our superinten­dent of schools has reached out. The problem is, there just isn’t a great pool of them out t h e r e . But, our s u p e r ­i n t e n ­dent has r e a c h e d out for the first time in a numbe r of years.

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

It still needs some fine-tuning, but I feel very op­timistic that the final re­sult will be one that will be acceptable. Some things are never acceptable to ev­eryone. But to the great majority of school board members and the Wake County community, be­cause it’s going to be based primarily on proxim­ity, choice and, extremely important, stability. Once a child gets into a school that child is going to stay there and knows that he will not be reassigned out of that school, even if a new school opens. That new school will not be opened by assignment. It will be opened by appli­cation and by choice. We have an obligation. Schools are parts of communities and communities are parts of schools, we have to make that happen.

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

This is one of the prob­lems I’ve had here in Wake County for many years — not specifically charter schools, but with the mar­ket share that we in Wake County have lost. Even with this present economy, the percentage of children outside the public school system is between 17 and 18 percent. We are los­ing in many cases the best and the brightest from our school system. What we have to do is make this school system so acces­sible that we bring back these students to our pub­lic school system or we’re going to be in big trouble here in Wake County in the next 10 years. Try to get in to a charter school. You get in by a lottery sys­tem. They all have waiting lists 3- and 4,000 on their waiting list. That’s a sad commentary on our public school system. The biggest part of people wanting to leave this school system has been the assignment policy over these past number of years, because you never know where you’re going to school. But, I welcome competition. Having com­petition makes you better.

How would you address the issue of student discipline?

Although we are lessen­ing the suspension rates, we will still have to be careful that we are main­taining discipline within our schools, because that would only work against us if that didn’t happen. We can do both. We can maintain discipline, but at the same time if we push a child out of school for an entire year, that child is usually gone forever.

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

I’ve said for many years, the state of North Caroli­na is not the greatest fund­ing mechanism for pub­lic schools, when you look around at other parts of the country. I come from the Northeast; that part of the country probably spends double per pupil. At the present time, we’re going through a very diffi­cult economy. At the pres­ent time, I think we have an obligation to play the cards you’re dealt. In this present budget year, we had a shortfall of approxi­mately $64 million.

What was your favorite subject in school?

History

One thought on “Ron Margiotta (R)

  1. As a long-time WCPSS employee in Mr. Margiotta’s district, I have never once seen him in our school. How can he possibly claim to care when he has no 1st hand knowledge of the schools in his district?

    Also, exactly what are his educational qualifications? As far as I can tell he has no college degree of any kind. When he doesn’t value education personally, why in the world is he on the school board, much less chairing it?