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Four Wilson County School board seats are up for grabs after the filing period opened Monday in November’s general election.
The spots include Districts 1, 3, 5 and 7. At least three incumbents filed to seek re-election Monday, including Board Chairwoman Christine Fitch of District 3. The other two board members who filed for re-election are Beverly Boyette of District 5 and Debora Powell of District 1.
Attorney Rhyan Breen tossed his hat into the ring for the District 7 seat, which is currently held by Robin Flinn. This is Breen’s first time running for public office.
“More than anything I decided to run because it’s important for somebody on the school board to have some skin in the game,” said Breen.
His children, 5-year-old Anna and 6-year-old Patrick, will be attending New Hope Elementary School.
“Every day when I get home from work or from a meeting, I have to look at the two most important constituents in my household,” Breen said, “and those are my two kids.”
Breen, who has been an attorney with Farris & Farris since graduating from law school in 2010, also serves on several community boards including the Arts Council of Wilson, Imagination Station and the N.C. Youth Advisory Council. He said at the state level, public education is going through changes and Wilson County needs to be responsive to those changes as they come.
Breen said the most immediate need in Wilson is keeping and retaining teachers. He said the teacher attrition rate in Wilson County is nearly double the state average, citing the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s 2016-17 figures.
“We’ve lost teachers,” Breen said, adding that consistency is vital to continued growth in Wilson County Schools. Breen, who was raised in Wilson, said he wants to focus on building the best possible school system for all Wilson County children.
PASSION FOR CHILDREN
Fitch, who has served on the school board for nearly 30 years, said she wants to continue her service if it is the will of the people in District 3 to re-elect her.
“Being an educator and having a passion for the children, it’s a way to continue to give back to the community,” Fitch said. “There’s always work to be done in order to move us forward and I still have the passion for what I do and the love of the children.”
Fitch served on East Carolina University’s faculty for more than two decades before retiring in 2011.
‘MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION’
Boyette and Powell, both retired educators, are seeking their second term in office.
“I’ve spent my life in education,” Boyette said. “It’s my passion, education and seeing students learn. I’m really excited about how well we’ve done this school year with the test scores coming in last week. We’ve made a turn and things are really looking up.”
Boyette said she was thrilled that Wilson County is moving up and doing well.
“I want to see that continue,” she said.
Powell said she too wants to continue making a difference in students’ lives. She said she enjoys serving the public and being part of the decision-making process.
“We are moving in the right direction,” Powell said. “I want to keep making a positive difference for our students, teachers and our parents.”
Powell said relationships are key when it comes to education.
“We want to make a difference in a positive way to let the people see we are looking at the growth of the child, looking at how that child performs, looking at the child to see what’s the best type of educational planning for that child.”
Candidates can file on weekdays until noon Aug. 3 at the Wilson County Board of Elections, 112 Douglas St. E.