Three vie for school board

Published 8:05 am Wednesday, January 28, 2009

FRANKLIN—Three people were nominated Monday for the at-large seat on the Franklin School Board.

The nominees are Phyllis Crum, her husband, Ellis Crum, and David Benton.

Benton was appointed to the seat by the City Council last spring, but the state attorney general, in a written opinion this month, said the appointment was invalid because the city failed to formally notify citizens of the meeting in which the appointment was made, as required by the Freedom of Information Act.

Council members voted unanimously Monday to hold public interviews of all three candidates at 7 p.m. next Tuesday in council chambers at City Hall.

The motion was made by Councilwoman Rosa Lawrence, who said she had no issue with holding open interviews of the candidates. In the past, the city has interviewed school board candidates in closed session.

“Since we had such a controversy last time, I think we should hold it in open session if we are going to be more transparent,” she said.

The council will select the new school board member at its next regular meeting Feb 8.

Benton was renominated by S.P. Morton Elementary School PTA President Bobbi Scheurmann.

Scheurmann said she believes Benton is the best choice because of his experience.

“I have seen first-hand the amount of time and energy Mr. Benton dedicates, and it is exactly what the school system needs,” Scheurmann told City Council members.

“I’m nominating him so he may continue to do the outstanding work he has demonstrated in the past.”

Franklin resident Wesley Jones nominated Ellis Crum, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year. Jones highlighted Crum’s experience with the Franklin Boys and Girls Club.

“He has served this community well through his service with the Boys and Girls Club. Mr. Crum comes in contact with 135 students on a weekly basis,” Jones said.

Jones also pointed out Crum’s involvement in helping area teachers communicate more effectively with parents.

“He and his wife even paid for some teachers to have access to a Web-based portal that allows the teachers to inform the parents about things going on in the classroom,” Jones said.

“He (Crum) has also demonstrated that he is committed to seeing that Franklin retains its rightful place as a leader in education because he has been a vocal proponent of applying high standards.”

The last nomination was cast by Ellis Crum for his wife, Phyllis, who had been nominated for the seat when Benton was chosen by a 4-3 vote last spring.

Crum asserted that she was qualified by listing her involvement in a number of community service boards geared toward children on which she currently serves. He also spoke of her intimate relationship with many Franklin students.

“Many of our students see Phyllis as almost a parent figure,” Crum said. “She can often be seen in the halls of the elementary school, the middle school and the high school. A lot of the children know her by name and by voice.”