The Mount Airy Board of Education has a hole to fill after the recent resignation of a first-term member.
Alisha Dancy-Brown moved into her late mother’s house, which is outside of the school district, explained Dr. Kim Morrison, school superintendent.
“Alisha did a great job. She was a great asset to the board … a conscientious board member,” said Wendy Carriker, school board chair. However, moving outside the district makes her no longer eligible to stay on the board.
Dancy-Brown was elected to the board in 2014 as a write-in candidate to replace Mike Hiatt who chose not to run for another term. She said at the time that she was a supporter of Hiatt and didn’t file before the deadline because she hoped Mike would change his mind.
The District A South Ward that Dancy-Brown served is District 1 for voters, explained Morrison. Someone who normally votes in that location will be appointed to fill the remaining months of the seat, then the November election will decide the new board member.
The city school board has three spots up for grabs this fall. In addition to Dancy-Brown’s District A seat, voters will decide on the at-large position held by vice chair Tim Matthews, who has been on the board 22 years, and the District B post held by Ben Cooke since 2010.
The filing period for these three races is July 6 to Aug. 3, with a $5 filing fee.
Morrison said the Central Office has had a couple of people show interest in being appointed to Dancy-Brown’s spot for the rest of the term, but others are welcomed to throw their hats in the ring.
Mount Airy City Schools has posted a Board of Education brochure online. After reading the brochure, if folks want to serve, letters of interest will be accepted in Carriker’s email box until the end of day on April 29 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The school system’s website describes the role of the school board as:
• To provide vision and direction for the school system
• To create policies in accordance with state law to establish standards, accountability and evaluation of essential operations of the school district.
• To prepare the budget for presentation to the county commissioners
• To hire, support, and evaluate the superintendent.
• To perform judicial functions by conducting hearings as appropriate.
• To advocate for the school district, staff, and especially the students in all interactions with other governmental entities and the public.
The website also names two things that the board does not do: one, receive any monetary compensation for their time spent; and two, interfere with the personnel decisions. Principals run their schools, and the superintendent manages the principals.
For anyone who wants to serve, it does take a lot of time, cautioned Morrison. The school board meets on the first and third Tuesdays each month for board meetings. Once a month the board travels to one of the four campuses for a luncheon. And the state requires board members have at least six hours of training a year so they can do their jobs better.
This group of board members has been great and tries to attend everything they can, said Morrison. Carriker, Matthews, Phil Thacker and Kate Appler have many years of experience.
With those four, Cooke and Mike Marion, the city has 87 years of combined experience on the board.
The school system has plenty of things to occupy the board’s time, including the current renovation of the former Pike building on Riverside Drive that will become the new Central Office.
Having lunch at the schools once a month is one of the best parts of the job to Carriker. It’s not just a meal because the host school puts together a program showing off innovative projects that the students are working on, she explained.
”That’s been amazing, seeing what our teachers can do with what they have, which can be tricky based on what comes out of Raleigh,” she said, referring to state funding.
There is the successful partnership between the high school and Richard Childress Racing, she noted.
“I am always amazed at how our teachers can stretch a dollar,” she said. “Doing more with less is always a challenge. We want to continue to do what is right for the children no matter what mandates are given as far as calendar and funding. Just always being child-centered. … That’s a huge struggle.”
It can be difficult at times to keep in mind that the kids are the main focus of education when there is concern over personnel, class supplies, building renovations and other concerns.
The children, she said, “they are actually our clients, if this were a business.”
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.