As we noted in our post about vetting school board candidates, we have sent questionnaires to each school board candidate and are publishing them in the order received. Questions were compiled by board members of both Triangle Blog Blog and Bridging the Gap, and attendees of a four-part community read and discussion series on reparations and race at the Chapel Hill Public Library. The discussion series was led by Danita Mason-Hogans and Simona Goldin, the co-charpersons of the Equity and Schools Task Force, members of the UNC Commission on History, Race, and a Way Forward and members of the Chapel Hill community.

Vickie Feaster Fornville is running for a seat on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education.

Fornville has been volunteering in the school district for over 30 years. A graduate of CHCCS, she is a former parent ambassador at McDougle Elementary School, and has served on PTAs and School Improvement Teams. A frequent attendee of school board meetings, she also volunteers with the Youth Teen and College Ministry at First Baptist Church and co-advises the NAACP Youth Council.

She is a retired probation parole officer from the NC Department of Public Safety. On her website, she notes, “In this role I had the opportunity to work with court impacted high schoolers from all four of our high schools. I also was the officer that was assigned to our specialty mental health court, Community Resource Court.”

Fornville was recently interviewed by Chapelboro about her decision to run. You can see her voting history in primaries and municipal elections here.

Make your 2023 municipal election voting plan

Beginning with the 2023 municipal elections, North Carolina voters will be required to show photo ID when they check in to vote. Voters who vote by mail will be asked to include a photocopy of an acceptable ID when returning their ballot by mail.

Check your voter registration now. You can look it up here. This is really important particularly if you’ve moved in the past year.

Make a plan to vote during early voting.
This ensures that if there’s a problem, you can sort it out. Early voting runs from October 19-November 4. Here is the complete schedule of voting sites, dates, and times for Orange County.

Read about the new voter ID requirements. Every vote counts in North Carolina, and this information must be shared early and often. If you know of people who have just moved here, or students, or new neighbors, please let them know about registering and the voter ID requirements.

Read all of Triangle Blog Blog’s 2023 election coverage

What is your vision for education in this community? What do you see as the major issue(s) facing the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools? Public education?

My vision for education in our school district is that our community works together to ensure that all students will be able to receive a quality education in a safe, secure and nurturing environment.

A major issue that I see facing CHCCS is the lack of security that many of our students face everyday. The insecurity for some is a food insecurity and for others it may be a fear of being their authentic self or being made to feel less than because they come from a historically marginalized community. A major issue that I see with public education is the premise that it is adequately serving all students.

What are three things that you believe the school board could be doing better?

Three things I believe the school board could be doing better are addressing family and community engagement, centering holistic student achievement and wellness.

What are the things you think the school board is currently doing right?

I think the school board is on the right course with the approval of the Strategic Plan 2027 and the continuation of school board meetings being live streamed

How do you feel about CHCCS’s reputation as a preeminent school system while also maintaining one of the highest achievement gaps in the country for Black and Brown students? 

I feel conflicted about CHCCS’s reputation for so many reasons. As a person from Chapel Hill and a Black student that graduated from Chapel Hill High School, I know first hand what it looks like for Black and Brown students to not always be given the same opportunities and support that White students were given.

Do you support posting school demographic performance data on the front page of the district and school websites for transparency and choice options for parents and caretakers?

I support greater transparency of the district’s performance data overall and relating to the different demographic groups. As far as posting it on the front of websites, I will refrain from saying that I would support that as it relates to “transparency and choice options for parents and caretakers.” Because, I believe there is a great deal to be unpacked in that statement and it is not a simple yes or no for me.

What specific education policies would you advance to tackle the achievement and therefore opportunity gap? Then, how would you translate policy into action to ensure that all children are having their needs met by the district?

I believe in early childhood education. I would work to advance the pre-k programming to include three year olds in our district. An action plan would have to be a collaboration between the district and the community. Our community has a need for affordable early childhood education. Having universal pre-k would serve our students and our families best interest. It would increase students’ preparation for kindergarten and relieve some financial burdens on families.

I would also work to advance policies around community and family engagement. CHCCS needs to do a better job communicating with our families and community at large. We need to listen more to what our students, families and community have to say regarding their needs so that we can work together to make sure they are being addressed. I believe that progress can be made when people accept that mistakes have been made and they are willing to work together to solve some issues. We need to “Think and Act Differently”-quoted from our Strategic Plan 2027.

In what school district or community activities/organizations have you been involved?

I have been involved in many roles,activities and organizations around our district and our community. I will not list them all here but I am willing to discuss my service further if requested. I was a CHCCS Reading Buddy for McDougle Elementary. I served as a Parent Ambassador. I have served on PTAs and School Improvement Teams. I have volunteered with the Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocate Program. I participated in Parent University programming. I have volunteered for UNC’s Communiversity Youth Program. I work with the youth in the Youth, Teens and College Ministry at First Baptist Church of Chapel Hill and I volunteer with the Hannah Ruth Foundation.

What changes should be made on the state and local level regarding public education?

I won’t try to say that I know all the answers regarding the changes that need to be made. I will say that more funding needs to be put into public education. Policies regarding salaries, racial and cultural inclusive curriculums and programs need to be addressed at the state and local levels.

Relative to other schools, do our public schools have trouble hiring and retaining good teachers? (Explain your answer)

The term “good teachers” means different things to different people. Some may base it on their advanced degrees, some may base it on their years of service and so forth. I will say that I believe that our district has a hard time hiring and retaining a teaching community that reflects the community in which it serves.

It is expensive to live in this area, which is why so many teachers have to commute. There is also a climate among some people in our community who make some teachers feel that they are beholden to them. This is an area that needs to be addressed.

What in your background leads you to believe that you would be an effective school board member?

I believe that I would be an effective school board member because of my lived experience serving people in Orange County from the UNC Healthcare System to the Department of Public Safety. I am a native Chapel Hillian who wants to bring the voice of many people who aren’t usually heard to the board. I have experience working with people from many different backgrounds and I understand the art of compromise and collaboration. I am intentional in my service and I will continue to show up for my community.

In the past five years, housing prices in southern Chapel Hill and Carrboro have risen almost fifty percent. Homes in the CHCCS district are now selling for$600,000 and up, and two bedroom apartments rent for almost $2,000 per month. Unable to afford to live in our community, many CHCCS teachers and other school employees commute an hour or more each day just to get to work. Other than raising the salary supplement, how can CHCCS help employees afford to live in our community? Would you support building school employee housing on school-owned land, as Buncombe County Schools did in 2017?

I would support our district doing some sort of partnering with local government and community stakeholders to come up with a plan to assist teachers and staff in obtaining housing that is in their range of affordability. Building housing for school employees, that the employees can afford, is definitely something that I would support. School employees are members of our community and I recognize the drastic need for affordable housing for our community at large. The discussion of what land to build said housing on is one that I believe would have to be looked at on a case by case basis.

What do you see as the primary work of the board of education?

I see the primary work of the board of education to be working together as a body to establish policies and practices that ensure that a sound education is accessible and offered to all students.