Guilford County School Board Race Heats UpBy Yasmine Regester / February 19, 2016
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In a school board race that looked pretty cut and dry, two more candidates have emerged. Byron Gladden, most commonly known around Greensboro as Bishop Dean, was the lone candidate running for the Guilford County School Board District 7 seat until two more names surfaced this week.
Don’t bother checking the Guilford County Board of Elections web site, their names are not listed. Instead, the challangers’ names will appear on the November ballot, if they can gain enough support.
Rev. Daran Mitchell, pastor of Trinity AME Zion Church and Bettye Jenkins, Community Service Coordinator for Guilford County Schools are both running for the District 7 seat as unaffiliated, write-in candidates.
Changes made by the N.C. General Assembly in 2013 required school board candidates to declare a political party in order to be in a primary. Otherwise, they have to run unaffiliated in the general election. However, Gladden was the only person to file with the board of elections by the deadline filing date at noon on December 21, which leaves him unopposed for the March 3 primary.
The Guilford County Board of Education districts were redrawn to reflect a nine member board, covering eight precincts, instead of the previous 11 members. It also eliminated two at-large seats. School board is responsible for establishing policies that govern the school system, including its curriculum, facilities, financial resources and personnel.
Candidates wanting to run, but may have missed the deadline to file under a political party with the Board of Elections, have the option to get on the ballot by way of petition.
According to Guilford County Board of Elections excutive director, Charlie Collicutt, a candidate has to collect signatures of at least four percent of the registered voters in the district they are campaigning for. District 7 has 41,393 registered voters, therefore only 1,656 signatures are required by June 24, to make it to the November ballot.
This is Gladden’s first political run, but he says that what he may lack in experience, he makes up for in passion.
“I have a heart for the children in this community. We can’t have institutions like the school system and the law enforcement failing our children. Its not right,” said Gladden. “I plan to fight and advocate for all 127 schools.”
Gladden says that he opposes any split of Jones-Elementary’s two programs, Spanish Immersion and Neighborhood Leadership Program.
“If one program leaves, then funding goes with it. What will happen to the rest of the neighborhood students. I am against bussing neighborhood children out of their communities,” said Gladden.
Rev. Daran Mitchell, has been lead pastor at Trinity AME Zion Church in Greensboro for the last three years. He is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Church Administration and Preaching at Hood Theological Seminary.
“I have always been interested in education and making sure that it is part of the foundation we provide for our children. Education and the success of our city goes hand in hand,” said Mitchell.
He has spent more than 25 years in ministry receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Religion/Philosophy-Liberal Studies from Bethune-Cookman College in Florida; a Master of Divinity Degree from Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury, North Carolina; and a Doctor of Ministry degree with an emphasis in Liturgy and the Black Church from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology from Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia.
Some of his concerns revolves around low-test scores, college readiness and the achievement gap. Mitchell noted those issues can be addressed by recruiting and retaining quality teachers.
“I want to offer myself to serve so that Greensboro can be the best it can be,” said Mitchell. “I believe the best way to make a difference is to be collaborative in our efforts.”
Schools in the new District 7 include: Bessemer Elementary, Bluford Elementary, Brightwood Elementary, Dudley High, Falkener Elementary, Gateway Education Center, Hairston Middle, Hampton Elementary, Herbin-Metz Education Center, Lincoln Academy, McNair Elementary, The Middle College at GTCC, Greensboro Peeler Elementary, Rankin Elementary, SCALE – Greensboro Simkins Elementary Twilight Academy, and Vandalia Elementary