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All three school board seats contested as filing closes

SALISBURY — Six candidates, two for each available seat, filed for the Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education race by the deadline at noon Friday.

Incumbents Alisha Byrd-Clark and Susan Cox are running for reelection to their Salisbury and southeast area seats, respectively.

Recent Catawba College graduate and carpenter Jonathan Barbee is challenging Byrd-Clark, who co-founded Gemstones and COMPASS Academy with her late husband, Alex Clark. Barbee specializes in installing cabinets in laboratories and classrooms, is involved with several local organizations and volunteers on local boards.

Cox, a retired educator, is being challenged  by Jennifer Studer, who filed on Thursday. Studer is a nurse at the W.G. “Bill” Hefner VA Medical Center. She grew up in Rowan County, graduated from South Rowan High School, earned a master’s degree in nursing education from East Carolina University in 2018 and has worked as a nurse for more than 20 years.

The East area seat is being contested by a pair of newcomers. Incumbent Josh Wagner is not running for reelection, citing his belief in term limits and self-imposing one on himself. Former East Rowan High School baseball coach Brian Hightower announced a run ahead of the filing period. Retired educator Kathy Sanborn also filed for the seat. Sanborn served several interim roles for Rowan-Salisbury Schools after retiring, including two stints as interim director of exceptional children.

The board is non-partisan and voting will be in the November general election.

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