Local News

Wake debates at-large school board seats

Posted April 24, 2008 9:11 p.m. EDT
Updated April 29, 2008 11:12 a.m. EDT

— Five towns and the county board of commissioners are pushing for the creation of at-large school board seats, despite some protest that the status quo is working.

Currently, each school board member if elected from one of nine districts. Backers of at-large seats have floated various plans, but all want county-wide election of at least some members.

They argue that having all board members representing only one area doesn’t make sense.

“What happens in Wake Forest affects Holly Springs. What happens in Holly Springs affects Wake Forest. Then why not have the school board elected from the standpoint of regionalism?” said Holly Springs Mayor Dick Sears.

Holly Springs, Apex, Cary, Garner and Rolesville want to see the creation of at-large seats on the board. County commissioners are also on board with the idea. How it would work remains unclear, however. One idea is to have four at-large seats.

“I’d like to see us all get together,” Sears said.

There is some opposition to the idea. Wake Forest, Zebulon, Morrisville and Wendell think it’s better to leave the school board elections alone. They have expressed concern that the at-large seats wouldn’t adequately represent everyone.

Neither Raleigh, Fuquay-Varina nor Knightdale has taken a formal position on the subject.

“We will be voting on this at, probably, our next meeting. The sense that I get is that we will continue to support the status quo,” said Raleigh City Council member Mary-Ann Baldwin.

Baldwin said an at-large system could limit who could run for the school board.

Some leaders are worried about what the cost of those campaigns could mean for equal representation. Others worry it could hurt their communities.

“It would devastate the southeast Raleigh community as far as fair representation on the school board is concerned,” said Bruce Lightner of the Southeast Raleigh Leader.

State lawmakers would have to approve any changes.