Overcash will join school board Former member will serve rest of Caskey’s term

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 7, 2012

EAST SPENCER — After little discussion Thursday morning, the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education voted unanimously for a former board member to serve out the remainder of Mike Caskey’s term.
L.A. Overcash Jr., who has served on the board from 1998 to 2002, ran against Caskey for the South seat during the 2010 election. He was the runner up in the race.
Caskey resigned from the board Monday to be sworn-in on the Rowan County Board of Commissioners.
Board member Kay Wright Norman made the motion to tap Overcash for the job after Vice-Chairwoman Jean Kennedy read the letters of interest of all four candidates including Reese Helms, Albert Kluttz, and Terry Peacock.
“Because of his previous service to the board and he was the runner-up, I think that would be a very acceptable thing to do,” Norman said.
A total of six letters were sent in for consideration, but Donnie White’s was received after the deadline and Duane Galloway does not live in the South area.
Overcash said he’s excited to have the opportunity to be back on the board.
“I’m anxious to get started,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with the board and staff at the schools again, let’s see what we can do for our children.”
Overcash said his top priority will be building a new central office to cut down on the wastefulness of operating several facilities by duplicating staff and resources such as utilities and water.
“Times are tight, money is tight and I can see that being a big savings for our school system,” he said.
Overcash’s wife, Patty, works in the Ellis Street Administrative Office as the high school licensure specialist. She is also the Parent-Teacher Association Council President.
But Overcash said the need for a central office was present far before his wife moved from the elementary school setting.
“It doesn’t matter to me where she drives to go to work,” he said. “We needed a central office when I was on the board before, but it wasn’t a priority, our priority was building new schools.
“That’s all been taken care of so it’s time to move on and get a central office.”
Overcash said he’s in favor of the downtown project.
“We’ve already spent close to $400,000, it’s kind of stupid to throw that money away and go somewhere else,” he said. “Plus, the city has donated the land and the parking.”
School board member Richard Miller said the board should be as “broad-based as possible.”
“I think it’s important that we guarantee a variety of perspectives represented on the board and we understand what’s being represented by each of these.”
School board member Bryce Beard said he expects Overcash to be a uniting force between new and existing board members.
“I think we need to add experience to the board,” he said. “He is somebody who has already dealt with some of the issues that will be facing the new board.”
Thursday’s called meeting started with a question of whether or not the current board should even be selecting Caskey’s replacement.
“Citizens have approached me to say that perhaps we ought to wait, that this ought to be done after the new board has been seated, can we have a discussion on it?” asked Chairman Dr. Jim Emerson.
Kennedy responded by referencing a state law.
“According to the state statute, once there becomes a vacancy on the school board, the remaining members of that body select the new person,” she said. “I feel that we need to proceed as we have been governed to do. We have received letters of interest from individuals, I think it would be a disservice to them to suddenly change the game while we’re playing it.”
Chuck Hughes, who is one of three new board members set to be sworn in during the Dec. 17 school board meeting, said he doesn’t agree with the board’s decision to appoint Overcash.
“He’s somebody that the county has rejected as least twice,” he said, pointing out Overcash lost when he ran for the seat in 2006 and 2010. “There were four candidate and they only really vetted one, there were at least two other excellent choices.”
Hughes said it would have been a welcoming gesture for the current board to leave the decision up to the new members.
“Nothing they did was illegal or unethical, I just wish it had been done differently,” he said.
Incoming board member Josh Wagner said he would’ve liked the opportunity to have a say in who would take Caskey’s place.
“I have to believe they made the best decision that they could make and just kind of move on from here,” he said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
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