School board hopefuls vie for votes

Voters in the Newton-Conover City Schools district will choose three Board of Education members in this year's election.

Current Chairman Scott Loudermelt and board member Mark Murphy face challenger Jeanne Jarrett in the race for two seats representing Conover. Current board member Jim Stockner faces no opposition for the Newton seat.

Last month, all four board candidates said funding and achievement are the major issues the school system faces heading into the next term.

Early voting continues at Newton Main Library and Highland Recreation Center in Hickory from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

On Tuesday, polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.

Jeanne Jarrett

What is your line of work?

Assistant finance director in Catawba County's finance department. I am also a certified public accountant.

Why are you running for this office for the next term?

As of lifelong resident of Conover, my siblings and I attended Newton-Conover City Schools from elementary through high school. My children also attended from kindergarten through high school. I have the greatest respect for the Newton-Conover School system and want to ensure that this excellence continues.

Why should you win?

The administration and Board of Education face difficult decisions
related to limited financial resources. With my background in accounting and finance, I believe that I can contribute this knowledge to these types of decisions. I feel that I am open-minded and can listen to all sides of an issue and make a decision based on what is best for the students and teachers.

Mark Murphy

What is your line of work?

I am vice president of Information Systems for First National Bank of Shelby.

Why are you running for office for the next term?

I am running for re-election because I feel that there are numerous issues that the board has begun to address and I feel that the Board of Education as it is today is well-equipped and informed to address those issues. The present Board of Education is extremely cohesive and works well together. I feel that I have many talents that will assist the board in the coming years and that I can still benefit the board with my knowledge, talents and love for the Newton-Conover City Schools and its students, parents and staff.

Why should you win?

The talents that I mention are one of the reasons I feel that I am the better candidate for this position. I have nearly 30 years of technology and financial background, which are two issues that face our system today. We must be able to harness the power of technology to better educate our students and provide them with the tools that they require for their lives after high school. Additionally, my financial background assists the board with issues relating to the economy and being better stewards of the finances that the government provides us to run our school system. It's incredibly important to use our finances most effectively while not negatively impacting the education of our children since that is paramount to what we are charged to perform as a board.

Scott Loudermelt

What is your line of work?

Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity of Iredell County.

Why are you running for this office for the next term?

Education is the key to a better life. No single variable is as important in the economic development of our community as a well-educated workforce. And no variable is more important in the life of a child as an education that prepares them for the challenges of the future. Only through a rigorous and relevant education will our community and our children be able to compete in a global environment that now more than ever requires a skilled, inquisitive and well-trained individual.

Service on this board has been an honor. I appreciate the trust voters in Conover have had in me for the last eight years. I want to continue that service in order to build upon the positive momentum our schools have experienced over that time.

Since 2003, test scores and graduation rates are up, teacher turnover is down, schools are safer, facilities are improved and our students will soon move into a new middle school, the first new school built in our district since the 1970s. This has all been accomplished in the face of the most challenging economic times in recent history. We have much to be proud of.

Newton Conover City Schools is a special place and has been for many years. We are a team, working toward the singular goal of giving our children the best educational experience possible. The board, administration, teachers and staff are committed to that purpose. I am proud of what has been accomplished and I believe our best times are ahead. I want to continue to contribute to that success.

Why should you win?

As board chairman, one of my roles is to assure each point of view is heard. Our board does not always agree, but we respect each other’s views and opinions. I see disagreement as a part of the process that makes us the best school system in our region. I am proud to be part of the board as it is now constituted.

I bring to the table not only the experience and knowledge that goes with being a two-term incumbent with appointments to state-level committees, but a sense that the job we are doing is of ultimate importance. The oath I took to serve means something to me. My service on this board is not a stepping stone to a “more important” position. To me, there is no more important position. I will always serve with that in mind.

Above all else, I am a parent. My two girls attend our schools and I, like every parent, want only the best for them. In each decision I have been involved with in the past eight years, I have asked myself first “Would I want this for my children?” Whether the issue is budgetary or offering a contract renewal to a teacher, I feel that if I cannot answer “yes,” then why should I expect the children of other parents to settle for less than I am willing to for my own children?

My vision for Newton Conover City Schools is simple. I want us to be the place where every parent wants their child to attend and every great teacher wants to teach. I want us to be the most fiscally responsible, rigorous, safe and caring school system in the state. I want each child to have an opportunity to succeed and then go on to achieve great things.

We can do it if we stay the course.

When all is said and done and the signs are put away, the voters have a clear choice to make. If they believe that our system is headed in the right direction, they should choose me. If voters want a committed, experienced, competent, caring leader with a vision for even better things to come, I am their candidate.

Jim Stockner

What is your line of work?

I was the band director at Newton-Conover Middle School and High School for 30 years. After my retirement from education, I worked in the travel industry designing tours for student groups and escorting adult and family tours for Burke Christian Tours. For my entire adult life, I have worked with and/or for students. Education has always been one of my passions.

2) Why are you running for this office for the next term?

For many years I have been dedicated to public service. Not only have I served as a teacher in the public schools, but I have served a total of 24 years in public office — 16 of those years on the Newton City Council and the past eight years as a member of the Newton-Conover Board of Education. The communities of Newton and Conover have always been blessed with a fine system of public schools and I want to use my experience to help keep that tradition alive and well. One major piece of unfinished business we have is the completion of the new middle school.

The opening of our first new school building in more than 30 years will be a wonderful occasion for the children of our communities.

Why should you win?

There are several reasons why I am qualified for the awesome task of serving the school system.

* My years of experience serving in public office.

* My dedication to the community and to the children of the school system.

* My experience as a veteran educator. I taught in this school system for 30 years.

* I have been the recipient of a Certificate of Merit and two Certificates of Achievement from the N.C. School Boards Association Academy for School Boardsmanship.

I want to continue to be one of the board members who encourages the system to achieve the highest possible academic excellence but at the same time serve to remind all that we need to educate the whole child and that all programs and classes are important. We need to keep children and youth in school. Having a wide variety of classes and offering a wide variety of educational experiences helps us achieve that goal. Of course at the same time we must be good caretakers of the resources afforded us.

No other person will work harder for the Newton-Conover City Schools than yours truly.