Local Politics

At-large school board seats divide Wake leaders

Posted April 28, 2008
Updated April 29, 2008

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— The system for electing Wake County school board members has divided county commissioners and area mayors.

Mayors in Apex, Cary, Garner, Holly Springs and Rolesville want to scrap the existing system of nine single-member districts to add some for of at-large seats. They made their pitch Monday to state lawmakers, who would have to approve the change, during a meeting to discuss a local agenda for the coming legislative session.

"We believe that at-large elections in Wake County would provide for more equitable representation for all voters in Wake County," Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly said. "I think when each family only can have representation by one of nine members, even when their child may go to school in another district, it's not a good system."

Mayors in Wake Forest, Zebulon, Morrisville and Wendell want to keep the current districts, and Raleigh could vote as early as next week on a resolution opposing any change to the system. Leaders in Fuquay-Varina and Knightdale haven't weighed in on the debate.

Backers of at-large seats said they're upset with controversial topics like reassignments and the district's attempt last year to force people to attend year-round schools.

Some parents also support a change to at-large representation.

"I don't think the school board acts in a way where they feel accountable to all the voters," Cary parent Joe Ciulla said.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners split along party lines in a 4-3 vote to call for at-large school board seats.

"I don't think that one elected board should tell another elected board how they should be elected," said Commissioner Betty Lou Ward, who was in the Democratic minority on the board. "I am very supportive of the school board. We have an excellent school system in Wake County."

State Rep. Ty Harrell said he wants to resolve the dispute.

"I've heard from some of the parents. I want to hear from some of the school board members. I want to make sure we're bringing all of the entities together to address this troubling concern," Harrell said.

Other items local officials would like legislators to address this year is a $5 increase in vehicle-registration fees in Raleigh, more authority for Cary officials to demolish rundown property or force repairs and a higher cap on the number of charter schools in North Carolina.

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  • bs101fly Apr 29, 2008

    Betty Lou is waaaay out of touch. Gone!

  • Rodney F Apr 29, 2008

    I don't think that one elected board should tell another elected board how they should be elected," said Commissioner Betty Lou Ward, who was in the Democratic minority on the board. "I am very supportive of the school board. We have an excellent school system in Wake County."
    Is it just me or does this sound like a person who is out of touch with reality.

  • TheAdmiral Apr 29, 2008

    bs101fly -

    Ummmm... When is the last time that a parent took a class or has done psychological evaluations as well as got their training updated in order to know better?

    I would not trust the self-center relativists to tie their own shoes let alone teach a child math let alone societal rules.

  • chfdcpt Apr 29, 2008

    BS, you said it right. The problem is not election by district or at large, but the fact that 95% of all incumbents get re-elected at all levels. Too bad that we don't fire them when they refuse to listen to us.

  • bs101fly Apr 29, 2008

    it's TIME the school board have a LOT LESS say in EVERYTHING related to our children and it's WELL past time for elections at large to be "the way it is" in good ole boy Wake County!!!!
    I'm SICK and TIRED of THIS school board mandating and dictating like they know better than parents about EVERY SINGLE THING!!!! Vote 'em out of office when they don't LISTEN and RESPOND to OUR NEEDS and get people who will! We're not passing ANY future bonds until it happens so wake up CC's and hear our noise!!! NO BOND in '09!!!

  • chfdcpt Apr 29, 2008

    I think it would be safer to keep the precints than at large. When I lived in Orange County, the commissioners were (and are) voted at large; which meant that all the votes were based in Chapel Hill. If Wake goes to the at large voting, the biggest municipalities will have the votes (Raleigh and Cary). That means that none of the smaller towns will have any say as to who they want to represent them.

  • Sidekick Apr 29, 2008

    When did an NC school board start giving a care about the concerns of the public? The school board chairman in Joshnston Co. even as much stated that the board's business made no concern of the public. And this joker is now running for NC Senate so he can 'NOT' represent more people.

  • TheAdmiral Apr 28, 2008

    ""I don't think that one elected board should tell another elected board how they should be elected," said Commissioner Betty Lou Ward"

    This is a perfect example of why we should get rid of spineless county commissioners who don't want to do what they were elected to do.

    They are the leadership of this county - and Betty Lou Who wants to run away from her job that she had run for.

    She runs for commissioner so she can run to the next election - she has no value nor does she bring value other than taking up space.

  • whatelseisnew Apr 28, 2008

    readme - I like how you think. We do need at-large seats. I would like to see all the seats be voted on by everyone in the county. Betty Lou Ward needs to wake up. This system is crumbling and delivering poor results at ever greater expense.

  • readme Apr 28, 2008

    I don't care where the board members come from as long as we put their offices in different districts and bus them there.