A surprise announcement was made at the Guilford County Republican Party candidates forum on Monday, Jan. 10.

Five candidates for the Guilford County Board of Education had already announced that they were running as a team in an attempt to take over the majority on the school board.

However, before the candidates forum began, when candidates for all races were asked to stand and be recognized, Marc Ridgill announced he was running for school board in District 2.

So the candidates forum, which had been planned for five, now had six.

The five candidates running as the “Take Back Our Schools-GCS” team, with the slogan “New Vision, New Direction,” are: District 4 school board member Linda Welborn, District 6 school board candidate Tim Andrew, District 2 school board candidate Crissy Pratt, District 8 school board candidate Robert Millican and at-large school board candidate Demetria Carter.

Carter spoke first and said, “I’m running for the school board because I think the current board needs to be replaced and needs to be replaced by people who actually want to educate kids.”

She said, “There is too much chaos going on and parents are angry and frustrated because they can’t get any information from the current board.”

Andrew said, “The school board is supposed to provide oversight and it doesn’t seem to be working like that now.”

Pratt said, “I’m here because I started watching school board meetings about two years ago,” and that it appeared to her that the majority of the school board members were not concerned about the students.

Pratt said, “I want to be a voice for our teachers and our students.”

Millican said, “The school board has got to be more accountable.”

Welborn said, “The first thing we need is to get school board members who are not going to delegate their responsibilities to the superintendent.”

Welborn said that the current status of public schools was a national problem and the way to solve it was “one district at a time.”

Ridgill, not being a member of the slate, spoke last and noted that he had been the school resource officer at Grimsley High School for eight years and knew what was going on in the schools.

He said, “We’re putting diplomas in the hands of kids who can’t read on the eighth or ninth grade level.

When asked about the $1.7 billion school bond being placed on the ballot, Andrew said that it was clear from the figures that the schools weren’t maintaining the buildings they had and if that didn’t change in a few years “then we are going to have to do it all over again.”

Carter questioned why if the needs were so great the $300 million in school bonds passed in 2020 had not been spent.

Millican said, “I don’t support the bond at this time.”

Ridgill said that a sales tax made a lot more sense than a bond.