‘Interference’ v. ‘Oversight’: The superintendent-school board dynamic



The N&O has a story about the Johnston County schools superintendent resigning over “interference” from the school board.  *Though, if you read deeper into the article, it looks like they have one hot mess on their hands up there in Johnston County.)



There are quite a few public schools bureaucrats who believe that — if you do not hold one of the sacred PhDs from a school of education at an institution of higher learning — you have no right to question what they are doing.  THEY know “best.”



The problem?  None of those folks have to face the voters.  None of them were installed by the voters.  Instead, we have way too many elected school boards across this state that act subservient to the superintendent and his/ her staff.  The proper roles here are overseers and overseen.  Superintendents need to brief their overseers on the board to seek approval before acting on any new schemes.  After all,  these people were elected by the people to keep an eye on things in the school system.



Barring major scandals,  school news regularly gets the ho-hum treatment by the public and the media.   There is quite the temptation to get caught up in the presidential and congressional races.  But these local races have much more of an effect on your and your family’s daily lives than those  contests do.




We’ve got one heck of a submissive board of education here in Moore County.   There has been public outrage over a number of issues:  redistricting,  school system expenditures,  and transparency,  among other things.



Instead of behaving as advocates for bewildered and frustrated parents and voters,  our school board members have behaved like paid employees of the superintendent and school system.  They can regularly be found in the pages of our local paper passionately defending each and every move by the school bureaucracy.




Well,  there appears to be something brewing out here in the real world.   Pitchforks are being gathered.  Torches are being lit



Parents are organizing politically.  They’re raising money and recruiting candidates to challenge incumbents.  They’re holding informational town hall-style meetings.



In March, it looks like we’ve got some competitive school board races to ponder:



District 1:  Incumbent (and teacher) Stacey Caldwell appears to have drawn a challenge from Carthage area resident Brandon Coleman.  Granted, we don’t know him.  But considering the fact that Ms. Caldwell has sat on the board like a bump on  a log,  rubber-stamping the superintendent’s agenda, the challenge is welcome.



District 2:   Incumbent Helena Wallin-Miller (a Democrat, BTW) has two challengers:  attorney, businessman, Southern Pines resident,  former Moore County GOP chairman,  and former Pilot columnist Bob Levy;  and West End’s Crystal Williams.  Wallin-Miller has also been a rubber-stamp,  so she needs to go.  (And we’re hoping that the independent-minded Levy can  dethrone her. )



District 4:  Incumbent board member (and retired educrat)  Betty Wells Brown has drawn a challenge from conservative David Hensley.  (Hensley, we’re pretty comfortable in saying, is the OPPOSITE of a rubber stamp.)  Best of luck to Mr. Hensley.



District 5:  Incumbent John Weaver was selected by the board to fill the seat left vacant by the death of long-time board leader Bruce Cunningham.  He hasn’t been around long, so we’re inclined to give him some slack.  But he needs to convince the voters of his intentions to be an overseer and advocate but not a sycophant.


He has two challengers:  Philip Holmes of Pinebluff, and Edward Spence of Aberdeen.