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, one of the lower-performing schools in Brunswick County, 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.