My name is Christina M. Aragues, a single mother of three and Army veteran who is currently running as a write-in candidate for Cumberland County School Board District 3 in North Carolina.
I came to Fayetteville in 2010 for assignment to Fort Bragg and made this my home. I have a varied and unique background that I can draw from to help our community. I am the daughter of a retired public school teacher. I worked for special programs in California teaching math, essay writing and SAT skills in disadvantaged schools. I was an EMT in the Air Force and then an officer in the active duty Army. I have planned and helped build training areas in Romania and Bulgaria. I have worked as a project manager for a major bank developing diverse technological solutions for its customers. Developing multiple contingency plans is my expertise.
When I first learned of the lack of solutions for returning to school whether in-person, in a hybrid manner or remotely, I was appalled. I could not understand how the board had not worked with experts in the community to find solutions. We are not the only ones in the world, country or state facing these challenging decisions. We need more diversity among our school board. We need parents with diverse backgrounds who will seek to communicate and listen to all in the community.
The school board’s mismanagement during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic was the final straw that convinced me to enter the race. As an Army officer, I was taught to think about and plan for second- and third-order effects. This approach is clearly lacking with the current school board’s response to COVID-19 and I will point out why.
First, the current school board voted to keep schools closed and continue with online education. They decided this without listening to the plan that Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly had worked hard to create. Sadly, there are currently over 10,000 children in our county who have not logged onto the training and 7,000 special needs children. With each passing day, these kids fall further and further behind. The gap is greatly increasing between the privileged and underprivileged children. Had the school board planned for second and third-order effects they would have ensured that no child was left behind.
This leads me to my next point: the current school board members do not have children who attend school. In essence, they do not have a dog in the fight. It is easier to dictate closings, openings and school schedules when it doesn’t impact you at all. What was the impact of the school closings on single parents or dual-military parents? The school closings added an additional expense of up to $600 per month per kid for parents and single parents who already have tight budgets. Parents need a voice.
Lastly, if the school board failed to plan and adjust for COVID-19 , can we really expect them to handle the next pandemic or crisis that will arise? Are they planning for the reintroduction of children back into the school system? How many kids will get left behind under the current leadership? Since I’ve been in North Carolina my current district has dropped from 47% to low 30s% in test scores. We cannot let our children suffer anymore. The time for change is now.
As a last-minute write-in candidate, getting the word out is especially difficult. Our current board member is running unopposed on the ballot. Unless someone hears my name, she is the only choice. When elected, I plan to ensure that Cumberland County Schools are doing the right thing for all students.
For more information visit www.facebook.com/christinaaragues1/