Susan Evans (D)

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Age: 53
Occupation: Accountant

How long have you lived in Wake County?  31 years

Do you have children in the district?

I have two children who have recently graduated from Wake County Public Schools.

Why have you decided to run for office?

I’ve always been really proud of Wake County public schools for all the ways they were forward thinking and continued to move our county forward as much as possible toward excellence for all students. Honestly, when the newest board majority was elected a couple of years ago, I just started hearing things that were concerning me. I’ve been worried that the rep­utation of our school sys­tem is suffering as a result.

What are the three biggest issues you think the Wake County Public School System faces?

The most difficult issue that we are continuing to face is how we best deal with the explosive growth that we have in Wake County. I really believe that our growth issues have driven the majority of the aggravations that have af­fected families in the past couple of decades.

I certainly believe improving student achieve­ment has to be extreme­ly top priority and I’m very concerned about the achievement gap that we continue to have in our minority and less afflu­ent populations versus our more affluent populations.

Beyond that I’m in­terested in bringing pro­fessionalism back to the Wake County School Board and focusing on stu­dents and on running an efficient school system and removing politics from the discussion.

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

In particular my con­cern with the current school board majority is that they’ve made several decisions in a hasty fash­ion without proposing an alternative solution, and I just do not think that’s the best way to conduct business.

Positive things that the new school board has done. I know it has been their intention to feel that they were letting parents have a bigger voice, and I think that’s a good inten­tion. Now whether they’ve been successful with that, I’m not as sure, but I will say that I think that’s a good intention.

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

Growth is definitely the most difficult issue facing the southwestern part of the county. That has creat­ed the reassignment head­aches that have disturbed so many families and I am very sensitive to that. Basi­cally we also have to meet the needs of this c om m u ­nity which is a high­ly affluent c om m u ­nity, whose s t u d e n t s tend to be very high achieving and they sometimes feel like their needs aren’t met.

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

One of the things that’s been implicit in Wake County policies through­out the last 30-plus years is that every child should have the right to equality in school regardless of the affluence of his neighbor­hood, and I still believe this is very important to this county, that we con­tinue to figure out ways to balance populations so that we do not have high concentrations of low-per­forming students in cer­tain schools.

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

While I know we have to have assessments and test­ing and that’s an important component, I’m concerned that we’ve moved a little bit in the direction where that seems to be the only component and I think that’s unfair to teachers. I’d like to see more input from principals to see how they think their teachers are doing. I’d like for par­ents to give f e edba ck on how the t e a c h e r s are doing. I don’t think a teacher should be judged sole­ly on how his or her students are able to do on end-of-grade tests.

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

I’m not against merit pay for teachers. I guess I’m more concerned about merit pay for teachers if it’s based solely on end-of-grade tests.

How do you think WCPSS should attract more minority teachers?

I suppose they’re do­ing the best job they can. They say they’re going out to all the top universities to recruit the best they can, and I trust that they are, I know we have an awesome staff at Wake County pub­lic schools, and I wouldn’t have any advice on how to improve upon it.

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

I would certainly say that it’s the most optimis­tic thing that we’ve had in the last year and a half. I think that the controlled choice plan is a good mid­dle ground. What will be most important to me, and in the current framework for the plan it indicates the intention to not allow concentrations of low-per­formance students and to allow students who would be in that situation to choose to attend a higher-performing school. If the controls are in place that will guarantee those types of measures then I think a controlled choice plan can work for our community for sure.

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

I think it’s great to have all kinds of choices for fam­ilies. If the charter schools move in a direction where they are allowed to choose their population and we progress to the point where they just siphon off the higher achieving students out of the public school system, then I would not support a movement in that direction.

How would you address the issue of student discipline?

It’s a tough issue and I’ve appreciated the fact that we are looking at the stu­dent suspension issue. I do think that there’s this bal­ancing act to be had be­tween when a student’s be­havior is disrupting other students at the school and when it’s just too punitive. If just keeping them out of school all the time is go­ing to set them back on a backward trail that can’t be overcome, I would pre­fer that we explore other options.

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

Well I certainly am not afraid to advocate and go to the county commission­ers when necessary and plead for as much funding as we can possibly get. I was disappointed that this past spring the current majority decided not to do that. Be­yond that we have to look very seriously at how we prepare for our growth and I think that we’re going to have to be prepared for a bond referendum and we need to be getting the com­munity prepared for that.

What was your favorite subject in school?

It was probably math. I’m a very logical think­er, I always liked solving puzzles, loved algebra and probably why I became an accountant.

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