School board looks to appoint previous member to fill seat

School board looks to appoint previous member to fill seat
December 08
05:30 2016

Mark Johnson’s seat will be open 



The local school board has begun the process to replace board member Mark Johnson, who defeated incumbent June Atkinson in the race for state superintendent of public instruction last month. By the next meeting, Tuesday, Dec. 13, the board wants to bring on a former school board member who left the board in 2014.

After the meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 29, board members held an open briefing session to discuss the steps they will take to replace Johnson, who joined the board in 2014. Although board members are elected to four-year terms by a public vote, when replacing a board member in the middle of a term, the board has the power to decide on the new member.

After a short discussion, the board decided they would appoint the new board member instead of going through an application and interview process, similar to what happened last year when Lida Calvert-Hayes joined the board.

A number of board members mentioned because there isn’t much time left before Johnson leaves the local board for his position with the state, appointing someone to fill the vacancy would be the best decision for the district. With big decisions on the horizon for the board concerning the school bond, which was approved by 95 percent of voters, board member Deanna Taylor suggested everyone take into consideration how long the application process takes to play out.

“One way to look at it is how soon do we want someone in here,” said Taylor. “The process we used earlier in the term took awhile. The question is how soon do we want someone in here and we should let that determine the process.”

Board chair Dana Jones agreed with Taylor. She mentioned the board will begin the year with a number of extra meetings and it would be best to do so with a full board.

“We have extra meetings with building and grounds because of the bonds so there are a lot of things that are going to be happening.” Jones said.

“We’re right in the middle of a busy time.”

Board members also discussed a candidate for the vacant the position. Because Johnson is a Republican, Jones said the vacancy had to be filled by a registered member of the GOP as well. Considering the requirements and the road ahead for the board, vice chairman Robert Barr suggested former board member Marilyn Parker fill the vacancy.

Parker, a graduate of Tennessee Tech University with a degree in early childhood and elementary education, served four terms as the board chair for the local school district in the mid-2000s. A mother of four children who graduated or currently attend school in the district, Parker also served on the board of directors for N.C. School Board Association.

“We’re at a critical place where we need to get someone on this board that hopefully all of us is comfortable with so we can keep this thing going,” Jones said.

Barr mentioned Parker has a feel for what’s going on in the classroom. He said, “With Parker, the board will get someone who has a reputation of being in schools, someone who is actually on the ground in the classrooms.”

“Someone like that really excites me.” Barr said.

Longtime board member Elizabeth Motsinger said, “After serving with Marilyn for many years, there is nobody who will do a better job.”

“She knows the district, she loves the district, and she stayed involved in the district even after getting off the board. I think she’s a fabulous choice.”

Sometime before the Dec. 13 meeting, the board is expected to reach out to Parker. A media report says she is interested in the job. According to Jones, if she accepts the position, Parker will serve about two years, until the 2018 primary election when all the board seats are up for grabs.

In the event that Parker doesn’t accept the position, the board will hold another meeting to suggest candidates. Parker’s decision is expected to be announced during the last school board meeting of the year, which will also be Johnson’s last meeting with the board.

“I will reach out to Mrs. Parker. We have a meeting December 13 and I will make sure we have an answer,” Jones said.

The school board meetings are held at the Education Building located at 4801 Bethania Station Road. The open session usually begins at 6:30 p.m.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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