CHAPEL HILL — Incumbents Michelle Brownstein and James Barrett won by large margins in Tuesday night’s Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education race, while challenger Andrew Davidson filled the third open seat.
Brownstein, the current board chairwoman, and Barrett received 6,329 votes and 5,771 votes respectively, while Davidson collected 4,029 votes. Challenger Ignacio Tzoumas fell short with 2,755 votes.
Barrett said it is an honor to be chosen to the board a second time but now it’s back to business. He was first elected in 2011 to fill an unexpired term.
“We have a long range plan in front of us, and we need to see it through and hold the district accountable for meeting those goals,” Barrett said.
Closing the achievement gap has been the main topic of discussion in the election forums.
Last year, 97 percent of white students in third through eighth grades were proficient, or doing grade-level work, in reading, compared to 65 percent of Hispanic students and 60 percent of black students. Only 55 percent of students with disabilities were proficient.
Barrett said the key will be improved instruction.
“Having a real high-quality instruction, focused on every single kid,” he said. “That is what we have control over, and we need to deliver that. What we do have control over, we ought to be better at.”
His fellow board member Brownstein was first elected to the board in 2009. She has served as the chairwoman for a year.
Brownstein wants to help teachers who she said lack support from the state government and “try to address the literacy gap that exist in our district.” She said the key will be working together with the community.
“My goal is to make sure every child can read,” Brownstein said. “That way they can access the curriculum and realize their potential.
“I’m gong to work hard to make sure that Dr. (Tom) Forcella’s long-range plan gets implemented really well.”
Davidson, 39, a database administrator with Verizon Terremark, will soon serve his first term as a board member. He will fill the seat of board member Gregory McElveen, who chose not to seek re-election.
“Serving my community is why I ran,” Davidson said.
He said his goals are to make sure the district becomes one that educates its economically disadvantaged students just as well as it educates its middle-class and wealthy students.
Davidson praises the district’s addressing the Hispanic student population in creating a dual-language program, but he said he wants to help the district create similar programs that address the needs of its Karen refugee and black student populations.
“I’m eager to roll up my sleeves and get to work on behalf of all the students,” he said.