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School board candidate touts her experience in education

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SMITHFIELD — Among the 16 board of education candidates in Johnston County, Lyn Andrews thinks her experience in the schools sets her apart.

“My career has taken me to every aspect of this school district, and I feel that I have the knowledge and the desire to put all that I have experienced and learned to good use for the students and teachers of Johnston County,” she said in an email response to questions from the Johnstonian News.

In her three decades in the county’s schools, Andrews was a teacher and coach on the high school level. She later taught health and physical education at elementary schools. In 2009, she retired as director of Exceptional Children’s Programs.

“My experience in the finances of the Exceptional Children’s Programs, the legal issues involved in public education and a clear understanding of what teachers need to be successful will be most beneficial in this service,” Andrews said. “A school board member must see the big picture, and I have the ability to see that picture in order to make a difference for the school system.”

If elected, Andrews said she would keep her focus on children. “A school board is a group of individuals who have been entrusted to be community stewards,” she said. “To be good stewards, we have to be make decisions that are focused on one thing – the students in Johnston County Public Schools.”

“We must return to a focus of student academic achievement and accountability,” Andrews added. “In my opinion, in recent years we have lost that focus.”

“We also must make sure that our students are prepared for the future,” she said. “Many will attend postsecondary schools, but many will go directly to the workforce. We must continue and expand programs that equip all of these students. For this reason, we must equip and support teachers and administrators so that they can help students.”

To best serve students, the schools have an obligation to serve teachers too, Andrews said. “It is my desire to make sure we are meeting the needs of all the teachers and staff who directly serve our students,” she said.

In 2019, the school board came under fire for its handling of a number things — a grade-fixing scandal at Clayton High School, the temporary reassignment of that school’s principal to the central office, the pension promised to retired superintendent Ross Renfrow, a budget shortfall that could lead to layoffs.

“My initial reaction to many of these situations was a deep sadness for our school district, and I don’t think I am alone in these feelings,” Andrews said. “But now is the time to remedy the situations that are still unsolved.”

Only a united school board can do that, Andrews said. “In order for a school board to be as effective as possible, the members must be united in their efforts,” she said. “My hope is that if I am given the privilege of serving on this board, my experience, my knowledge and my desire to serve could help bring unity to this cause,” she said.

Andrews said she did not have enough information to comment on the Clayton High matters or Renfrow’s pension.

“The budget shortfall should have never happened in the manner that it happened,” she said. “I do not have all the details, but I do know that the public depends on the school board and the superintendent to spend money wisely and in the manner that is in the best interest of students.”

The goods news is that interim Superintendent Jim Causby is taking steps to close the budget gap, Andrews said. “But many of these issues will need to be addressed by the next superintendent as well,” she said. “The bottom line is that we cannot afford to spend the money that has been spent without additional funding, so difficult decisions need to be made.”

Andrews hopes the budget crisis doesn’t lead to layoffs. “My opinion has always been that when cuts have to be made, the last to be cut would be those who work directly with students,” she said. “This would certainly be my opinion should additional cuts be made in the near future.”

But without knowing job descriptions and duties in detail, it would be irresponsible for anyone to say that all layoffs should come from the school system’s central office, Andrews said. “For this reason, the superintendent is responsible for making those recommendations,” she said.

Speaking of superintendents, Andrews thinks Johnston’s next one should know his or her way around a school system. “I would hope that we will hire someone with experience as a superintendent,” she said. “We need someone who is focused on student learning,” Andrews added. “I also feel that we need someone who is equipped to help us handle the growth we have and will experience. We also need someone who is approachable and is able to clearly share his (or) her knowledge with our staff, school board and community.

“It would also be so important to have someone who has a passion for our community.”

About Lyn Andrews

Evelyn Story “Lyn” Andrews was born Sept. 17, 1957, in Washington, D.C., the daughter of the late Dr. and Mrs. Stratton R. Story. Raised in Smithfield since age 3, she is a member of First Christian Church in Smithfield.

Andrews and her husband, Don, have been married for 38 years, and they have two sons, Will Andrews and Taylor Andrews, and five grandchildren.

A graduate of Smithfield-Selma High School, Andrews earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Appalachian State University. She received her master’s degree in education from East Carolina University and her master’s in school administration from N.C. State University.

After retiring from the Johnston County schools in 2009, Andrews was director of aquatics at the Smithfield Recreation and Aquatics Center. She now teaches at Campbell University.