Farewell to Hughes: School board member says goodbye at last meeting
By Rebecca Rider
SALISBURY — The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education’s feistiest member said a quiet goodbye Monday.
Chuck Hughes, a retired physicians assistant with the VA who has represented the board’s Salisbury seat for four years, lost his bid for re-election last week against newcomer and founder of Gemstones Academy Alisha Byrd.
Byrd will be sworn in at the board’s Dec. 12 meeting, making Monday’s business meeting Hughes’ last hurrah.
During the meeting’s celebrations section, board Chair Josh Wagner presented Hughes with a plaque in honor of his service. Serving on the Board of Education was a huge commitment, and takes a lot of time, he said.
“We all serve a purpose and we all hope we do some good while we’re here,” Wagner said.
Hughes had a busy four years. During his term the board hired a new superintendent, approved a controversial central office for administration, launched the hotly debated one-to-one initiative, moved forward with the merging of Cleveland and Woodleaf elementaries, dealt with fallout from plummeting test scores and wrestled with conversations about the possibility of closing schools.
Hughes himself earned national and international attention after one of his comments on a policy that would have allowed high-schoolers to carry pepper spray was cherry-picked by the Associated Press.
During Hughes’s term the board also began constructing a long-range facilities and capital needs plan — the first Rowan-Salisbury board to have done so — launched a restorative classroom pilot program for children with chronic behavioral problems, gave Knox Middle School reign to build a magnet program and took the system off the state’s list of low-performing districts.
Monday Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody said she believed that children had always been Hughes’ No. 1 priority. Moody said over the years, she and Hughes had many “knock-out-drag-outs” but he had always been very respectful — something she appreciated — and she thanked him for his service and his friendship.
“I truly believe that you gave 100 percent,” she said.
“Thank you very much,” Hughes replied, “you’re the best superintendent I’ve ever voted for.”
In a previous interview, Hughes said he was looking forward to spending time with his family.
Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.
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