The following presentation was given at Wilmington’s City Council meeting on Thursday, January 4, 2024.
Dustin Pearce. 276 W Locust Street.
I recently presented a case to our school board to reconcile issues our community has with our schools so that we can heal relationships and be proud to pass our levy. It went exactly as I expected, meaning I was politely ignored. So tonight I now want to address our community here at city council.
I met with our Superintendent and School Board President over the summer and they thought we could pass our levy by simply not taxing seniors, but I told them I thought it would fail, because despite our school board announcing that there would be student fees and staff cuts if our levy failed again, not a single parent or teacher showed up to our many outreach events over the summer, or even the events others put on. Even after our levy had just failed for the 4th time, those who had the most to lose if it failed again prioritized their vacations over the place they call home.
Did you know 6,521 people showed up last November to vote for or against our schools, yet the average attendance at our schools’ board meetings when decisions are made that could make things better is ZERO? This does not include media, vendors, or parents and children who leave immediately after receiving awards, but the point still remains.
That same month, at city council, a handful of persistent individuals showed up for the 2nd or 3rd time to present a case against a proposed condo complex in front of Timber Glen and saw our elected officials finally change their minds to veto the complex after weeks of passing it through. This example shows the power our community has to make real change when we simply show up, speak up, and be persistent.
So, is a proposed condo complex more threatening to the “integrity of Wilmington” than our community’s schools failing? Or can we get a handful of residents, parents, and teachers who will show up, speak up, and be persistent for their own community, their own children, and their own careers?
Our motto at Real Change Wilmington is “we are a community of empowered individuals”. This means we don’t just hope for change, we don’t just vote for change, we work for change. And through our WORK, “WE EARN OUR PRIDE”. We must all take personal responsibility for our schools, because they affect every aspect of our community.
It would not be a true win for Wilmington if our schools’ levy passes in March by just 1–2 votes leaving our community divided, issues swept under the rug, and our children in danger of losing funding again in 5 years.
So whether we support our schools or have problems with our schools that need solved, the only way things can get better is if we show up, speak up, and be persistent. Our next school board meeting is on January 22 and the details can be found on our schools’ website. I hope to see you there. Thank you.