Wake County Schools

Wake school board approves new directive to change election terms

Under the board's proposal, all board seats would still be up this fall but not all terms would last the same number of years.

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Emily Walkenhorst
, WRAL education reporter

The Wake County Board of Education has, in a new resolution, directed the county Board of Elections to adopt new terms for school board members beginning with this November's election.

The school board approved the new resolution Tuesday night, three weeks after it passed a resolution saying nearly the same thing.
The difference this time is that the school board is telling the Board of Elections to implement four-year, staggered election terms -- not suggesting the Board of Elections merely consider doing so.
Last month, Election Director Gary Sims said he would not proceed with the school board's suggestion. While the Board of Elections still could have decided to proceed with it at their April meeting, Sims said the Board of Elections doesn't have the authority to decide when elections should be held. The board only holds elections based on how its told to.

At the time, Sims said he would have opted to implement the school board's plan if he had been told to do so, instead of asked to consider doing so. Sims said the elections board would have made the change, presuming the school board’s attorneys had said it was OK to do so.

The school board voted to change the language in their resolution to the election board after a closed session to meet with attorneys Tuesday night.

The school board is seeking a return to four-year, staggered terms instead of two-year terms and election cycles in which all school board seats are up at the same time. The method changed under a now-expired judge's order, and the school board has been left to figure out how to get them back on the previous schedule.

Under the board's proposal, all board seats would still be up this fall.

The school board members in Districts 1, 2, 7 and 9 would be elected to four-year terms this fall, while school board members in Districts 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 would be elected to two-year terms.

The board arrived at that decision because terms were extended unusually long for Districts 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 under partially struck-down 2013 state law, and they were cut unusually short for Districts 1, 2, 7 and 9.


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