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2018 Elections: Jerry Benton Wants To Create More Options For Non-College-Bound Students In Brunsco

Jerry Benton is seeking a seat on Brunswick County's Board of Education. He's facing Democrat Joanne Levitan on the November ballot

 Brunswick County’s Board of Education is split into five districts.  Two of them have contests this year.  In District 5, John Thompson lost his primary to Republican Jerry Benton.  Now this political newcomer battles Democratic Challenger Joanne Levitan in November.

Jerry Benton wants to establish sustainable options for non-college bound students, an effort already underway with the conversion of an alternative school to a trade school. 

But it was a recent conversation, he says, with the principal of Lincoln Elementary, that impresses him with the depth of the challenge the district is facing.

"53% of her kids that graduate kindergarten will not be there by 5th grade.  They have that large of a turnover in her population… moving into this county, then they hop over to Pender, then they’ll go over to, you know, New Hanover, and it’s a circular movement and it’s a couple years, and how are we supposed to get proficiency up on students we see two, maybe three years out of their career?"

Benton says he’s glad officials are working with Duke Energy and Time Warner Cable to develop job-training programs.  This Cub Scout leader, who is married to the headmaster of Charter Day School, part of Roger Bacon Academy, would also like to create a boat mechanics program.  

Editor's Note:  This article has been corrected to remove the language characterizing Lincoln Elementary as one of the "lower performing schools."  

Rankings of public elementary schools in the county,data from 2016-2017:

1) Union Elementary - B - Exceeds Growth

2) Belville Elementary - C - Met Growth

2) Lincoln Elementary - C - Met Growth

2) Town Creek Elementary - C - Met Growth

3) Bolivia Elementary - C - Growth Not Met

3) Southport Elementary - C - Growth Not Met

3) Virginia Williamson Elementary - C - Growth Not Met

4) Jessie Mae Monroe Elementary - D - Growth Not Met

4) Supply Elementary - D - Growth Not Met

*These are solely elementary schools K-5. K-8 schools are not included in this list.

Listen to the extended interview here.

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.