By Michelle Wagner | Outer Banks Voice on September 30, 2020
Incumbent Republican David Twiddy and Democrat Charles Parker are vying for the Dare County Board of Education at-large seat on Nov. 3. Twiddy, completing his first term on the board, served as the Dare County Schools Director of Transportation for 30 years before retiring five years ago. Parker, a retired United States Postal Service mail carrier, has also worked in a variety of businesses throughout his career.
Twiddy, the board’s representative to the Dare Education Foundation (DEF), said he wants to return to the school board to continue initiatives he began, including working with the DEF to increase teacher supplements and secure teacher housing on Roanoke Island.
“I’m a native of Dare County,” Twiddy asserted during an interview with the Voice. “I started kindergarten at Manteo Elementary School and graduated from Manteo High School in 1988, going straight to work for Dare County Schools. I love children and I love to help people and Dare County Schools means a lot to me.”
Parker told the Voice he believes his experience in the business world will bring a fresh perspective to the board. “I think I have some talent through my work experience….to aid and see some avenues and opportunities that might not be seen by other people. My forty, fifty odd years out in business, and my background, might lead to more innovation.”
During his career, Parker held a variety of positions from designing and selling computer forms to experience in mom and pop stores.
Parker noted that if elected, he would like to see more affordable housing to help attract teachers and has put forward the idea of enlisting the Outer Banks Tourism Board to help fund the endeavor.
“If law doesn’t allow, we can get the law changed,” he noted, adding that the bureau is supposed to help counter the impact of tourism. “What tourism does is make housing unaffordable. Moving the tourism bureau to a new perspective to help out the schools would be wonderful.”
Some upcoming issues the school board will be faced with, Twiddy said, are directly related to the economic strains caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of those is the impact the county budget will have on school funding.
“County commissioners may not have the funds that they’ve provided the school system in the past,” he said. “So, we are going to have to look at some other options or some other opportunities, and work with our county commissioners because they are a key part in our funding.”
Noting that school nurses, social workers and counselors will likely see an increase in the workload when students return to school, Twiddy said the board is following the issue closely and anticipates state and federal COVID-19 relief funds to assist with hiring additional social workers and counselors.
Remote learning “has been an emotional strain on some of students,” Twiddy asserted. “We hear that over and over again.”
For his part, Parker said that critical thinking skills are especially important for students today. “What’s happening right now for the kids in school, none of us have ever had to look forward to, not knowing really what the future is going to be like,” he said.
A volunteer captain at the Roanoke Island Maritime Museum, Parker is also a proponent of bringing the U.S. Coast Guard Junior Leadership Program to the district.
“We are always talking about what we can do to help our children become good Americans to get good paying jobs,” he noted. “This might help.”
As to the best course of action when it comes to educating students during the pandemic, Twiddy said he hopes that after the Oct. 1 special meeting of the board, “We have a plan for all of our students to come back to school, one way or the other – not just K-5.”
Twiddy also expressed his desire to see the district have a robust virtual learning option for students whose families want to continue remote learning after classrooms re-open and touted the district as being one of the few that already had Chromebooks and iPads for their students when the pandemic struck.
Parker said he believes the school board has acted prudently so far when it comes to remote learning versus in-person learning. “I say this, ‘go low and go slow,’” he asserted. “I’ve got no problems going into the new year with home-based [learning] until we see what’s going on in other schools and we learn from them.”
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