Shea Neville | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week
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Shea Neville 

Durham Public School Board of Education District 4

NAME: Shea Neville


HOME PHONE: 237-2527

OCCUPATION & EMPLOYER: Risk Manager, Duke Hospital

WORK PHONE: 824 6705

HOME ADDRESS: 3402 Winston Road 27704




1) If elected, what are your top priorities?

First goal is to improve the image of DPS through strategic marketing. I will indulge in aggressive interaction with parents and teachers so that the community will see that DPS cares. Second, I will work to increase the number of top performing schools. To address this, I would like to see an improved counseling model that can take on the social economic issues that prevent students from succeeding. Third, I would like to see a more teacher friendly atmosphere. I would discourage teachers from buying school supplies for kids and encourage school leadership to involve social services where students do not seem to have adequate support from home. This will allow teachers to stay focused on classroom material.

2) What is there in your public record or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be an effective leader? Please be specific about your public and community service background. I served as a substitute teacher before entering into the United States Army where as a Non Commissioned Officer; I have achieved meritorious service by keeping my soldiers first. This will translate into keeping students first. After completing service, I partnered with Durham Parks and Recreation as a Baseball Coach for 3 summers. This gave me an opportunity to serve a mostly at risk youth population and keep them off of the streets. Despite budget cuts with the help of other coaches, we used our personal funds to continue the program in the summer of 2009. I also served one year on the Durham County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council but elected not to continue to better serve the baseball league. I think that this demonstrates my true community spirit and what God wants us all to do, as I have no children. We must go beyond ourselves to serve.

2) How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?

I consider myself results oriented and that's my philosophy. I believe that you have to be willing to sacrifice to serve and me entering in the Army proves just that and now I am ready to serve my local community in another capacity. I have been working with kids since I've been back in Durham and I understand what it will take to develop a process to foster achievement.

3) Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.

I would have to say that with budget cuts to come. We have to encourage the community to pitch in. By this I am suggesting we look at what we can do at home before we send our children to school. Some children will thrive no matter what schools they attend, public or private because of what they are getting at home. On the other hand there are many parents that have put their children at a disadvantage from the start and no program or mentor will do anything to change that. With resources depleting, parents will have to take responsibility. If a child's home is not complete, then parent(s) should take measures to fix that situation for the sake of the child. Sacrifice and when that isn't enough sacrifice some more. The difference between good students and challenging students is what is backing them at home but there are a few exceptions.

5) The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?

I would move to have office hours so that I am accessible. Next I will make sure that all schools have the same resources according to the students they serve. No school should have more or less than another under the public eye. All students deserve the best.

6) What is your stance on sex education in Durham Public Schools? Should it be taught, and at what grade level?

Yes I think it should be taught, however, I think parents should have the option to opt their children out. I would change the title to Sexual Reproduction Education and not only would I encourage the class to cover the biology/anatomy portion, I would insist that an economic portion be included. For example I would include the cost of day care, food, health care and also the impact of not planning for a child.

7) Teacher quality continues to be an issue in many school districts, including Durham Public Schools. How would you work to reduce teacher turnover, increase job satisfaction and attract more qualified teachers to Durham? What additional professional development or support should teachers receive that they are not already getting, and how would the district pay for this?

8) Test scores continue to show an achievement gap between students in an ethnic or racial minority in Durham and their white counterparts. How can Durham's school board shape new policy or initiatives to improve the performance of minority students?

I think the gap is more economical and not racial. Many minorities that do not achieve fall below a certain income. Policy will not change this gap. The way we encourage our parents will close this gap and what the parents will not do, we get social services involved.

9) Despite population growth, enrollment in Durham's schools dropped 9 percent this year. How will you work to make DPS more attractive to parents and families?

I think this is also due to our city's image. For years people have migrated away from Durham to seek a better life for their children. I think realtors will agree that one selling point for property is how the schools are rated. We have to work to improve the image of each school. I would like to have conversations with administrators at our local private schools to see if there are areas that DPS could actually match. I would encourage that we

10) Should the state provide vouchers to parents who choose private (K-12) schools for their children? If so, for what amount?

No, I do not believe the state should provide vouchers. I think that those funds would be better utilized improving the existing system. If the state resorts to vouchers, then a certain amount of failure has been accepted. Vouchers do not offer a solution, only an escape. DPS does provide children with what they need to succeed.

11) Durham's school system is facing perhaps one of the most challenging budget years in recent history. What direction will you give to school administration to balance the budget? In what areas would you recommend cutbacks and which services should remain untouched?

I will not be able to answer this question without analyzing the budget, assessing the DPS organizational charts, finding out how much needs to be cut and comparing that to existing programs to determine what will be most effective. However, I feel that a review of central office staff/practices would be necessary to include the School Board. I would also revisit positions in administration and job descriptions to explore if we are using best practices. My goal would be to preserve as many teaching positions as possible, to include other personnel with more direct student contact.

  • Durham Public School Board of Education District 4

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