Eight apply for school board vacancy

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, September 8, 2021

SALISBURY — Eight people have thrown their hats in the ring for a brief stint on the Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education.

A seat opened up in August after Susan Cox resigned her position to move to Guilford County. Cox announced she would step down on Aug. 9 and the board advertised the vacancy with an application through Aug. 31. Cox’s resignation was effective on Aug. 24, at the conclusion of her last meeting.

Board chair Kevin Jones and vice chair Alisha Byrd-Clark are vetting candidates to bring to the board for consideration. During the Aug. 9 meeting, the board discussed narrowing the field down to three top candidates to be interviewed during the board’s Sept. 13 meeting.

The interviews will happen in open session, meaning the public will be able to watch the process.

Jones and Byrd-Clark have just begun the process of vetting the candidates. Jones said he is looking for someone who will work well with the board and has knowledge of the district and experience with the board’s current projects.

“Some potential experience serving on this type of board is helpful but not necessary,” Jones said.

The people who have applied come from a mix of backgrounds. Some have kids or grandkids who are enrolled in the district. Byrd-Clark said two come from education backgrounds.

Currently, the board has two people with education backgrounds: Brian Hightower and Jean Kennedy. Hightower is a teacher with Iredell-Statesville Schools, and Kennedy retired after teaching with RSS.

Jones said the board could interview more than three candidates or fewer, and they hope to get more than the snapshot of the person provided by the applications.

“I think my goal is to appoint somebody whenever it feels like the board is unified around that person,” Jones said.

Whoever the board decides to appoint will serve a year on the board and the remaining two years of Cox’s original term will be up for election in 2022.

Jones said the board will probably ask the candidates if they are interested in running to serve the remainder of the term, but it was not asked on the application.

“If they do move forward, it would give them a good opportunity to try it out because it’s a brief window,” Jones said.

Jones said the board wants to fill the position, which would represent the area served by Carson High School, because it wants to represent the community as well as it can, noting filling the seat would also give the board a tiebreaking vote. With six members, if the board is split evenly on a vote it will fail.

“I’m thankful we had people interested in serving,” Jones said. “This is not something I’ve done before or anyone else on the board I’m aware of.”