Local News

Wake County Residents Consider At-Large School Board

Posted January 10, 2006

— There's a new twist in the fight over school reassignment. Some local leaders said it's time to change the way school board members are elected, giving more power to Wake County parents.

It's not hard to see how much reassignment affects parents and children in Wake County. In the case of an emergency you could have three kids in three locations. What is hard is coming up with a solution everyone can agree on.

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    Perhaps nowhere is the rallying cry against reassignment louder than the town of Apex. At a recent town hall meeting, more than 200 parents came to vent their frustrations at a plan that shuffles their children from one school to the next.

    Residents of Apex have been meeting everywhere from town hall to coffee shops. At this meeting, they're brewing over a new strategy.

    "We should be able to go to the polls and look at all nine people and vote for all nine people," said Wendy Burns.

    What Burns is describing is election at large -- countywide elections for countywide representation. The mayors of both Apex and Holly Springs are pushing the idea.

    "If we had the school board elected at-large, we'd probably have a better sense of regionalism," said Holly Springs Dick Sears.

    School board member Ron Margiotta said countywide elections would push up campaigning costs, but he supports the concept.

    "I think school board members would be more responsive to the whole county within their district.," said Margiotta.

    "What happens in Apex affects Holly Springs, what happens in Holly Springs affects Apex, that kind of thing," said Sears.

    "Reassignment is certainly a countywide issue," said Margiotta.

    To make the change to at-large school districts: first, a group of state lawmakers from the area must unanimously pass a bill. Even supporters admit that would be tough.

    Incidently, Johnston County already has an at-large system and board members are looking at changing it to make it more inclusive.

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