Rochelle Whiteside is hoping to keep her seat on Pender County’s Board of Education. The Democratic incumbent is facing Republican Challenger Cindy Faulk Fontana on the November ballot.
It was 2016 that this retired theater and visual arts teacher accepted an appointment to the Pender County School Board. Rochelle Whiteside says it’s her nearly three decades of classroom experience that helps her see how mandates that look good on paper would play out in the real world. And because Pender County cannot spend more on education, she says the state and federal government must deliver -- and voters should demand it.
"I get people all the time just in the small world of Pender County who say, ‘well, it doesn’t matter to me who’s on the Board of Ed because I don’t have a kid in school.’ But the big picture is – wouldn’t it be a healthier, happier, safer community when children are educated and they’re spending their time having a band concert to benefit hurricane victims or putting on a play for a cause in your community as opposed to breaking into your house or stealing your car."
Whiteside says she supports parental choice in schools, but the current system sets up charter schools to drain money from traditional public schools without equal requirements.
Despite high principal turnover in the past, Whiteside says the district is 15th in the state in student achievement – and going forward, principals are digging in and staying put.