As noted in today's article by Thomas Goldsmith, Hill is the long-time Raleigh resident and career educator who has made some decisions that he feels are data-driven even when they've been unpopular with constituents.
As noted in today's article, Losurdo is the relative newcomer who had a challenging childhood and early adulthood that she says has helped shaped her into a better person..
"I had to learn to adapt,” Losurdo said. “I want children to have the stability to go to a neighborhood school that I didn’t have.”
While Losurdo said she lived in nine states in her first 18 years, Hill had a far more stable life growing up in the North Hills area of Raleigh.
“I’ve had the advantages in life that a good education provides,” Hill said of why he ran for school board in 2007. “I needed to do some community service – I wanted to give back.”
Losurdo said her decision to run was motivated by the less than stellar education one of her daughters received when they relocated to Wake and a conversation she had with Hill in 2008.
Losurdo said she was unable to get Hill to help her when she asked why a boy who brought a box cutter to her children's elementary school to cut up a classmate was allowed back in class after only two days. She said Hill told her to call the area superintendent, who she said also wasn't helpful.
Hill, who remembers the conversation, said he told Losurdo that under federal law he couldn’t talk about another child’s situation or the results of any discipline associated with school incidents.
Hill has touted his 28 years working in the school system.
"Kevin has got the historical perspective; he has been in the trenches; he knows the issues that confront education,” said Diane Payne, former principal of Broughton and Enloe high schools. “Kevin is just very solid; he has good judgment.”
But Losurdo says she has the parental perspective that Hill has never had.
"She really feels that the children deserve better than what they’re getting,” said former school board candidate Donna Williams, a close friend of Losurdo's who helping her in the runoff.
While both candidates can point to pluses, they've also got negatives they're confronting.
Hill has taken heat for decisions that have been unpopular with parents, such as supporting what critics called "Wacky Wednesdays" and not supporting restoring Wakefield Elementary to a traditional calendar.
"By and large, with the exception of a couple of votes, I think I’ve served my district well,” Hill said, noting that board members are required to consider the needs of the entire system as well as district priorities.
Losurdo has faced criticism over her personal life, education credentials and what she has admitted were inappropriate Facebook comments. She said she's never claimed to be perfect.
"I’ve never lived my life like I was going to be a candidate," Losurdo said. "I didn’t censor my words. I’m confident that people know the reality and trust my ability to make decisions for the education of these children.”
The central message of Losurdo’s campaign is that she supports the new student assignment plan that Hill voted against last month. She has accused Hill of wanting to promote a system of forced busing.
“My opponent seems to think the only way to educate students is to bus them around,” Losurdo said. “I disagree.”
Losurdo has been accused by Democrats of flip-flopping because she originally said she couldn’t vote for the plan. But she now says that, after further review, she realizes that it was the best option on the table for promoting parental choice, stability and neighborhood schools.
Hill said he voted no on the plan because he thought it had not been fully vetted and didn’t do enough to prevent the creation of low-achievement schools.
What the plan needs, Hill said, is a thorough going-over to improve the way it’s being communicated to the public, a line-by-line examination of its costs, and a better way to make sure that low-achieving students have the chance to attend high-performing schools.
“I would not suggest going back to the drawing board,” Hill said. “I believe there are many good components to this plan.”