Name as it appears on the ballot: Gregg Gerdau
Party affiliation, if any: Democratic
Campaign website: http://www.gerdau.org
Occupation & employer: leadership, innovation and risk management advisor to companies poised for growth
Years lived in Chapel Hill/Carrboro: 11+
1) Given the current direction of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education, would you say things are generally on the right course?
a. Generally, yes, but several areas need more focus in order to maintain the high standards we expect from our schools and for our children.
b. If not, what specific, major changes you will advocate if elected?
i. Begin by advocating for the proposed implementation of Project Advance with its four levels of supplemental pay raises (based on four levels of competency teachers can obtain) modified to include communication with and input from parents and students.
2) Please identify the three most pressing issues the school system faces and how you will address them.
a. Preparing our students and our schools for the future by implementing better technologies with adequate support and training. As a board member, I will carefully examine and question all proposals and plans to ensure sensible goals are met.
b. At present, we are losing good teachers to other locations and industries. In addition to supporting Project Advance to retain and reward great teachers, I will advocate repositioning our recruiting policies, practices and budgets to successfully attract new teachers.
c. Making the most of the abundant resources we have in our great District is a perennial challenge. Our budget proposals require sufficient underlying analysis to inform the Board of their value to students now and in the future. I will not recommend or vote for anything without enough information to adequately assess the impact both organizationally and specifically for our children.
3) What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective as a member of the Board of Education? If you’ve identified specific issues above, what in your record has prepared you to be an effective advocate for them?
a. My background will add a sensible and balanced vote to the decisions made on behalf of our children and our community by the School Board. I’ve been making prudent choices on behalf of our children and our community for a long time:
i. By leading the Town of Chapel Hill’s Technology Committee
ii. By serving two terms as board chair and now as philanthropy chair of the American Red Cross in Central North Carolina ;
iii. By serving on the leadership board of the Friends of the Downtown in Chapel Hill;
iv. By serving as Scoutmaster at Troop 9 and earlier as assistant Scoutmaster and Eagle Scout mentor at Troop 39;
v. By leading a Venture Crew for young people at Orange United Methodist Church;
vi. Before moving to Chapel Hill to develop and advise Triangle companies poised for growth, I was the Chief Information Officer for one of the largest publicly traded investment management firms; with Goldman, Sachs for over a decade; and held several other senior management positions;
vii. The sum of my experience allows me to comfortably understand large and complex budget matters, comprehend technology requests and requirements, know how to effectively recruit, retain, motivate and reward people, and communicate well with people from 6 to 96.
4) Please give one specific example of something you think the Board of Education has done wrong or that you would have rather done differently in the last year. Also, please tell us the single best thing the town has done during that span.
a. The BOE must communicate more effectively with its constituents. Attending Board meetings and other more focused individual school committee meetings are expected. I will work towards having more open dialogue opportunities for parents, children and teachers to collaborate with Board members. And I will advocate for the development of closer relationships between the Board, Carrboro’s Board of Aldermen, Chapel Hill’s Town Council and the Orange County Board of Education.
5) How do you identify yourself to others in terms of your political philosophy? For example, do you tell people you’re a conservative, a moderate, a progressive, a libertarian?
a. I am a lifelong Democrat who identifies as a liberal. I also understand a spectrum of philosophies may be present when group decisions are being deliberated. My focus is on finding prudent solutions that are balanced with the needs of our children.
6) The INDY’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. If elected, how will your service in office help further that goal?
a. Our children deserve an equal opportunity to receive a great education in our school district. We have high standards. My mission is to hold ourselves to an even higher standard. I will advocate for a Pledge of Performance for all district employees to model for our students the shared experiences of justice, fairness, recognition of every contribution and encouraging every student to develop to their full potential.
Please address, in detail, the following major issues in Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools:
7) While North Carolina lawmakers have approved some modest raises for teachers in recent years, teacher pay continues to lag behind most states in the country. What would you do as a local school board member to offer incentives for high-quality teachers to remain in the school system? Please offer specifics.
a. Better retention can be accomplished by advocating for the implementation of Project Advance beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year with its four levels of supplemental pay raises (based on[[?]] four levels of competency teachers can obtain) modified to include communication with and input from parents and students. We should wait no longer to do this, recognizing that some adjustments may need to be made to turn this into an engine of instructor productivity for the benefit of our children.
b. Repositioning our recruiting policies, practices and budgets to successfully attract new teachers should wait no longer. We have a great community of families, students and schools that will be attractive to many great teachers looking for a better place to live and work. Collaborating with the Carrboro and Chapel Hill governments to require adequate workforce housing availability in all new developments would make it possible for the great teachers who want to work here to become fully immersed in our communities.
8) Where do you stand on the ongoing debate over the Common Core curriculum in North Carolina? If you would support doing away with Common Core, please explain what you would substitute.
a. My family and I moved to Chapel Hill for a better school system with higher standards than the one we were in. High standards are part of the fabric of our district. However the debate on math and English standards evolves (and I don’t see it evolving very quickly), recruiting and retaining great teachers for math, English, science and technology curriculum is most important. Whatever the core standard, engaged and competent teachers are a must, and we must recruit more of them for our children to be prepared for the future.
9) Orange County is expected to consider a $125 million bond referendum next year with the stated goal of paying for infrastructure improvements for local schools. Many school officials say that spending amounts to less than half the total needed for aging school facilities. Considering budget constraints, what kind of innovations can you offer as a school board member to help manage these costs?
a. My long experience with big capital improvement budgets allows me to dig deeper into proposals and costs to ascertain where the funds will go and how the expenditure will benefit students and teachers.
b. Further, we need careful analysis of how maintenance is being performed and budgeted. Without knowing all the particulars, it appears we may have deferred too many projects for the wrong reasons and now face higher costs because of those delays.
10) Racial academic disparities are a perennial problem in every school system. Please provide fresh ideas you have for addressing this long-running problem.
a. Developing a Pledge of Performance for all district staff to model for our students the shared experiences of justice, fairness, recognition of every contribution will encourage every student to develop to their full potential.
11) Schools in the 21st century face the task of educating an increasingly diverse student population. What about your background has prepared you to lead a 21st-century school system, knowing the unique challenges students from different backgrounds face in the schools?
a. I have lived and worked in Asia, Europe and (mostly) in the United States. My experience as an international executive, responsible for recruiting, training, motivating and rewarding staff from around the world has shown me that all people can work together to achieve outstanding goals with good communication and training.
b. When allocating resources for training teachers, it is crucial for effective teaching and learning to approve only those resources focused on training teachers to adapt to the most diverse generation we have ever had to educate because their communication and learning attributes are significantly different than the generations who precede them (teachers and instructors).