Candidate Questionnaire: Board of Education

Del Turner, candidate for Chatham County Board of Education — Dist. 3


Editor's Note: All candidates were sent two questionnaires by the News + Record. The first asked general questions about candidates and their goals; the second asked office-specific policy questions.

Questions are indicated in bold, any question left blank was unanswered by the candidate.

Del Turner

How long have you lived in Chatham County? 

32 years

Date/place of birth: 

02/28/1949 New York City

Age on Election Day:


Occupation (where you work, what you do):


Campaign website/social media: 

Please outline your education and work history for us. Please include all job titles and responsibilities, any work recognition you’d like to share.

Educated in public and private schools, colleges and universities, (Laurinburg Institute NC, Queens College NY, Campbell University NC, UNC – Chapel Hill NC; 

45 years of experience in Finance, including Assistant Comptroller and Chief Fiscal Officer

Party affiliation (even if your race is nonpartisan): 


Current and previous elected offices held or sought & terms you served: 

Board of Education, 3 terms

Campaign manager (if applicable):


Campaign treasurer (if applicable):


Why are you seeking this office?

I’m privileged and humbled to have been elected to serve 3 four year terms on the Chatham County Board of Education. I seek a fourth term because I take public service very seriously, particularly service that impacts children.  I have devoted my life to helping to secure the well-being of ALL children and education is the best place to do that. 

What makes you the best candidate on the ballot?

First and foremost, I unreservedly revere children and this office requires that level of focus. I am fortunate to work asynchronously with 4 other people to honor our obligation, as members of the Board of Education, to provide all of our students with an educational foundation that is vast in scope, truth-based, timely and relevant. 

Give us a job description you’d write for yourself if you’re elected to this seat:

Board Member Requirements

  • Knowledge of board organization and functions
  • Sufficient time availability for board duties
  • Strong interpersonal and collaborative skills

Board Member Duties

  • Knowing the organization’s vision, mission, policies, programs and needs
  • Preparing for meetings by reviewing the agenda and supporting documentation
  • Regularly attending board meetings; participating actively and conscientiously
  • Approving audit reports, budgets and business decisions
  • Contributing to the development of policies and strategic plans
  • Ensuring fiduciary responsibilities are met
  • Maintaining confidentiality of all internal organizational affairs

What three specific, measurable and attainable goals would you pursue if elected?

  1. Help develop a process for measuring outcomes of AVID instruction in our middle and high schools, including, but not limited to: (a). heightened study habits, (b). exponential critical thinking skills in students (c). behavioral discipline, (d) zero dropouts, (e) 100% graduation rate;
  2. Advocate for the inclusion of K-12 Civics as a salient part of the curriculum, on the premise that whatever vocation a student eventually chooses, they will always be citizens and should learn early what being a citizen entails. I expect also that it will stimulate quantitative, positive parent involvement.
  3. Assist with equity efforts to ensure all children receive the sound, basic education they are entitled to and deserve.

What are the biggest challenges in Chatham and/or N.C. right now — and how would you address them?

Income disparities across the county, exacerbated by the pandemic, as well as the lack of broadband access for the entire county, hampers educational attainment on all levels. During the height of the pandemic, CCS ensured that every child had a laptop and if they lived in an area with no broadband access, a written packet to keep them on track. Making access to community college and college level courses available to our qualified high school students, while they are under the canopy of public education and all it has to offer, for free, ensures that they are prepared for programs required by the work force.  

Chatham County is one of the fastest growing counties in the state. What do you see as the major challenges/opportunities coming from this growth and how would you address them?

At this very early point in the school year, we are already above our projected student population. We expect a mammoth influx of students when Chatham Park and the new industries we have acquired settle permanently; new schools will definitely be required. The upside however, is that more available jobs provides opportunities for students to remain in Chatham to live and work.

What’s your overall view of the role of the elected body you’re seeking to join? Is it fulfilling its mission now? If not, what needs to change?  

The Board of Education is a quasi-legislative, quasi-judicial governing body that derives its authority from the state.  It provides leadership for the district’s schools, receives citizen input, develops policies for student conduct and discipline, employee conduct and discipline, makes decisions regarding school buildings, maintenance, annual budgets, etc.  The CCS Board of Education is exemplary in fulfilling its mission, as evidenced by the recognition of the board by the North Carolina Association for Scholastic Activities (NCASA) for three consecutive years and the MAGNA Award in 2019 for innovative school district programs.

Do you believe the 2020 Presidential election produced fair and legitimate results?

Yes.  The nation’s top intelligence and law enforcement agencies confirmed that the 2020 election was secure and allegations of massive voter fraud, by mail or otherwise, had no basis in fact. The Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council verified that no electronic voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised. The most compelling evidence to support my answer is that 50 post-election lawsuits filed to the contrary, were emphatically rejected by the courts presided over by Republican judges. When different people from the same political party, coming from different places with different responsibilities all come to the same conclusion, it is hard to dispute that conclusion.


Fast facts:

Political/government hero:  Malcolm X

Favorite book:  Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Book most recently read:  Naked Genius by George Moses Horton

Favorite film:  The Razor’s Edge

Hobbies: Crocheting

Community/civic involvement:  Networking

Favorite thing about Chatham County:  Rural beauty

Personal motto or one-line philosophy:  “Knowledge is better than riches”  Cameroon proverb

Strongest childhood ambition:  Supreme court Justice

Most significant life goal you’ve accomplished:  Being a mother


Office-specific questions

One of the primary roles of the Board of Education is allocating district funding. Has the district properly utilized its funds, including federal emergency COVID-19 (ESSER) funds, in recent years?

a, What new projects or initiatives would you like to see funded in the coming term?

Given the documented fact that our Finance Department has had exemplary audits over the past twelve years, and Certificates of Excellence in Financial Reporting have been conferred on Chatham County Schools Finance Department, by the Government Financial Officers Association and the Association of School Business Officers International, consecutively, for the past four years, I would concur that the district is properly utilizing its funds.  Esser funding was earmarked to respond to specific areas impacted by COVID-19, including, but not limited to, improving facility improvements to minimize transmission of COVID, supplies to sanitize and clean and providing resources and training to principals, teachers and staff, on preventing and reducing transmission of the virus  We have implemented all of these objectives since May of 2021. However, we did not have to use funds earmarked for improving air quality because our ventilation systems were up to date, so those funds were diverted to addressing other primary targets of Esser funding,  learning loss and mental health services. 

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the education system today? What would you do as a member of the Board of Education to help address those problems?

I think the biggest and most critical direct challenge to the education system today, not just in Chatham but nationwide, is the diminishing number of people willing to go into the profession of teaching. The Bureau of Labor Statistics cited in a Wall Street Journal article that approximately 300,000 public school educators left the profession between February 2020 and May of 2022.  No doubt, the pandemic heightened the urge for teachers to depart their chosen profession, however, the pandemic alone was not the only exacerbating source. A survey from the National Education Association indicated that approximately 55% of educators planned to leave teaching permanently or retire early due to being paid 20% less than other workers with college degrees, the stress associated with the job and the lack of societal acknowledgment of the importance of the job teachers do.  I understand that, having watched the status of teachers be eviscerated over decades. That is why our board and administration does its best to let our teachers know they matter and are valued and respected. That is why 92.6% of our teachers appreciate working in Chatham County Schools. 

How much supervision should parents have when it comes to a teacher’s curriculum? What role should social issues like race, sexuality and gender play in the classroom?

Parents are a child’s first and forever teacher and have complete supervision over what their child knows, sees and hears at home.  However,  when a child enters a public school with other children, his/her mental supervision transfers to the child’s teacher, who is there to administer a school-designed, developmentally appropriate strategic educational plan. This tacit arrangement has always existed and is a paradigm that is still acceptable to most parents. However, there have been parents, over time, who have sought to change the paradigm and arbitrarily upend educational patterns through various means, including litigation. Space does not allow going into the specifics of each of the following cases: Brown v. Hot, Sexy and Safe Productions (1995) “, and Leebaert v. Harrington (2003), however, the federal courts who heard these cases established that (and I summarize):

     1. parents do not have the right to dictate the curriculum at a public school to which they have chosen to send their children, and, 

    2.“parents do not have the right to tell a public school what his or her child will and will not be taught.

Therefore, in essence, no pathway exists for parents to “supervise” a teacher’s curriculum and therefore also, those legislators and would-be legislators soliciting support premised on a “Parental Rights” platform are misleading parents into believing they can alter federal law, knowing, under the Supremacy Clause, they cannot. Race, sexuality and gender, in any form accepted by the majority of people as a “norm”, unavoidably plays a role in nearly ALL Literature and ALL History. 

Do you believe the current Board of Education is inclusive of school community stakeholders? Why or why not? 

I believe the current Board of Education may be the only board that has been inclusive at all, or, perhaps maybe, the most inclusive of all because of the technology available to us that did not entirely exist for previous boards.  Everything we consider doing is sent in survey form to all stakeholders to gather their input, the information is also put on our website, or a written communication is sent out, in English and in Spanish.  Every Friday, the principal of every school, robo calls every parent in their jurisdictions, on their landlines and cell phones to inform them of upcoming activities and events scheduled for the next week.  That information is also emailed.  Our Superintendent is a firm believer that relationships matter and has consistently convened face-to-face and group interactions to be consistently in touch with the community.  I know, being a parent of a graduate and a current student, that this level of communication has never existed before in Chatham County Schools.

Academic and operational challenges remain in the wake of COVID-19 both in CCS and across the state. What do you believe needs to be done to improve upon issues like learning loss and teacher vacancies in Chatham County?

20% of the Esser Funds was earmarked to address learning loss.  We applied those dollars and augmented them with our own operational funds to double the number of school nurses, social workers and counselors, to help meet the physical and mental health needs of our students, provide training for our staff on trauma, its causes and effects and integrate social emotional learning into our curriculum.  Due to the unrelenting conscientiousness of our teachers and staff. our children rebounded quickly from the residual effects of the pandemic to exceed the state average in reading, math and science proficiency; CCS grew in EVERY tested subject in EVERY grade; our own Jordan-Matthews High School was selected in a national competition to produce North Carolina’s first-ever high school production of “Frozen”; our children are on a roll and we couldn’t be more proud of them.  Our vacancies have dropped from 200 to 49, 94% of our teaching vacancies are filled, retirees are anxious to return to our classrooms and we have long-term subs, a source of stability for our students.  Our Teach Chatham Program, which allows our students to elect to take transferable college credit education courses and come back to teach in Chatham when they fully credentialed, is on track to start soon.  We still have much to do, however, the pandemic did not ravage us as it did in other places.  We are moving on.

Del Turner, Chatham County Board of Education, Chatham County Schools, candidate questionnaire, District 3, Elections 2022