Call For School Board Candidate Debates

Dear Editor,

Over the past three weeks, I have noted three or four letters to the editor that have mentioned the “New Vision New Direction” slate of candidates for the Guilford County Board of Education. While some of these letters have been written by the same individual, a casual reader of the Rhino Times might assume that all of the conservative candidates running in the May 17 primary are part of this slate. That is not the case. Marc Ridgill, a retired school resource officer with eight years of experience at Grimsley High School, is running in District 2.  Matthew Kuennen, a professor with 12 years of classroom teaching and significant budget management experience, is running in District 6.

For that reason, I am submitting this letter to the editor to request a debate (or open panel discussion) be held so voters can hear from both candidates in District 2 (Marc Ridgill and Crissy Pratt) and District 6 (Matthew Kuennen and Tim Andrew) prior to the May 17 primary. Possible topics for discussion could include: The $1.7 billion dollar school bond; strategies to address the unprecedented learning loss that started when students moved to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic; the dangerous conditions that children, teachers and administrators face inside Guilford County Schools (GCS); allegations of financial mismanagement by GCS administration on items that range from improper budget transfers (from maintenance funds to build the Penn-Griffin recording studio) to plans for new schools that are already $10 million dollars over budget (during the design phase); and thoughts on what characteristics we are looking for in the next superintendent of GCS, and the process by which this person will be identified/selected.

In addition to scripted questions, which should be posed by a neutral third party (perhaps Mr. John Hammer might volunteer his services?), the debate/panel discussion should also include an open-question segment, where people in the community have the opportunity to ask questions of the candidates and get answers to their questions first-hand. Based on other open panel discussions that were held earlier this year, it seems that Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings (6-8 p.m.) work well for this sort of event. Regarding venue size, we should go big (300 people, or more) because the wide range of issues to discuss will generate significant community interest.

In closing, I will remind readers that this is a critical midterm election. Basically, the more voters know about each candidate’s position(s), the better. I will also let readers know that both Marc Ridgill and Matthew Kuennen will agree to attend this debate. How do I know? Because I’m Matthew Kuennen, your candidate for Guilford County Board of Education, District 6.

Matthew R. Kuennen