After serving the community as a member of the Elkin Board of Education for four years, Haley Sullivan has decided to run for the east district seat on the board for a second four-year term, citing the future of the school system for her own children as one of the reasons she’s interest in the seat.
An Elkin City Schools’ alumna, graduating in 2005 from Elkin High School, Sullivan met her husband in college while attending Western Carolina University, from where she graduate with a Bachelor of Social Work in 2009. They now have two children, an 8-year old and a 23-month old.
“We moved back to Elkin, and I started working at the Department of Social Services doing child preventative services,” Sullivan explained, adding that while she was at DSS, she began pursuing her master’s through the University of New England’s online program, one of just two nationally accredited DSS programs. She graduated with her master’s in social work in 2013 and began practicing clinical social work.
“When I was still working at DSS, I decided to run [for office]. I felt there was a group of children and parents who weren’t able to represent themselves, as well as to make sure every child has equal opportunity and access to a quality education and everything that goes with it,” she said.
“This is my home, my community; the community, people and staff I love, and I want to do as much as I can for them, and to continue making it the best in the state.”
The budget is one topic Sullivan cited as “definitely the biggest issue we are facing.” The state recommends the fund balance to contain at least eight percent of the entity’s operating budget. “We had 80 percent, and we had to spend that down to be eligible for other funding. We still have $1.5 million,” she said, explaining that amount is still “significantly over that” eight-percent recommendation.
“When you have a large fund balance, people think you don’t need the grants, because you have that sitting there,” she explained of the reason the money has been spent down.
In addition to budget items, Sullivan said she wants to see the school system continue to work on the budget so they won’t have to have any personnel cutbacks, continue the system’s academic progress and maintain high academic excellence.
“I also want to see us put support back into athletics. I think they’ve been neglected, and we need to work to educate the whole child, not just the academic child,” Sullivan said.
She noted efforts of the school board to continue working to implement STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics) curriculum from kindergarten through 12th grade, which would make Elkin the first school nationwide to implement it K-12, as well as its ongoing efforts to balance the budget while keeping staff in place and keeping test scores high.
Also, Sullivan said she wants to see work continue at the middle school to continue getting professional development for the teachers and making sure the staff and teachers at the tools they need to be successful academically.
“I love the school board and being involved with the school where my daughter goes and my son will go,” Sullivan said. “That is why we moved back to Elkin, so our kids can get a quality education.”
She said children are her passion, and “trying to give them the best opportunities possible.”
In addition to her own children and her work with the school board, Sullivan volunteers at Tri-County Christian Crisis Ministry and provides meals for The ARK through her church involvement, and she serves as youth leader at her church.
Professionally, she works at Bayada Home Healthcare as a client services manager, which entails accepting and rejecting new cases, employee relations and human resources, marketing for new clients, and marketing and public relations with doctors and hospitals.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.