The following presentation was given by Dustin Pearce at the Wilmington City Schools’ Board of Education meeting on Monday, November 27, 2023.
Dustin Pearce. 276 W Locust Street.
I believe anyone can change, but real change takes two, because real change is "reconciliation"—where forgiveness and repentance both prioritize a relationship.
Again, my name is Dustin Pearce. I am not from here, but I am for here. I left Columbus and everyone I knew and made Wilmington my home. I want to see our schools funded and our community healed, so I’m here tonight to present a case for “reconciliation”.
💔 Our school levy has failed for a 5th time. We tried lowering the tax in May, then not taxing seniors at all in November. We even conducted a community survey and found people with concerns over academics and discipline still vote “yes”. Blancher passed their levy, Clinton County passed our child protection levy. So why is it that Wilmington still has some teachers and even entire precincts of our community—like Port William, Martinsville, and Cuba Road area—who consistently vote against our schools?
My suspicion is that it has something to do with relationships our schools have broken in the past. I’ve heard stories teachers being fired for silly reasons, and staff members not being supported after implementing sensible safety measures for our children. I’ve also heard how devastating it was for Port William and Martinsville when their schools closed. While our goal can’t be to please everyone, I think if we put ourselves in their shoes, we could imagine feeling disrespected and disregarded by the people we cared for and thought we could trust.
I’m not here tonight to blame anyone—I know our schools have done so many great things to improve—I’m here tonight to present a case for “reconciliation”, because even if our community has the character, courage, and humility, like I know we do, to truly forgive past offenses, there simply can be no moving forward until our schools also have the character, courage, and humility to truly take responsibility, apologize, and make changes. I believe “reconciliation” would go a lot farther in funding our schools and healing our community than changing the percent or terms of our levy, or amount and size of our yard signs ever could.
In the end, treating people like people is free—showing an apology to teachers, staff, and community members would be powerful and free. And if our school board can approve hundreds of thousands of dollars in roof repairs after our levy failed the third time, I think we can figure out how to find the money, whether in operational funds or grant dollars, to reestablish facilities closer to areas like Martinsville and simply restore their dignity. I believe if we prioritize repairing relationships, we will not only fund our schools, we will heal our community. But we need you, our school leaders, to do the right work, and things will work right. Relationships are the way. So I thank you for hearing my case for “reconciliation”. ❤️