Southampton County could see change in school board member selection process

Published 3:00 pm Wednesday, February 6, 2013



RICHMOND—The House has passed a bill to eliminate a committee in localities such as Southampton County to choose school board members and have the county supervisors appoint the school board instead.

Delegates unanimously approved the bill Friday and sent it to the Senate. On Monday, the bill was referred to the Senate Education and Health Committee.

The bill’s sponsor, Del. Rick Morris, R-Carrollton, said the goal is to make school boards more accountable to the public.

“I strongly believe that when the citizen’s tax money is being spent, (the government agency) needs to be held accountable in some way,” Morris said. “And the school board selection commission has no accountability to the citizens because they are appointed by an unelected judge.”

Until 1991, school boards in Virginia were appointed. A year later, the General Assembly gave localities the option of having voters elect school board members. That’s now the practice in the vast majority of the state’s 134 school districts.

Southampton County is among the 24 school districts in which school board members are still appointed. In those districts, the school boards can be appointed by the county’s governing board or by a school board selection commission. Southampton is one of three districts that has a committee chose its school board.

If the bill passes the Senate, the selection commissions would be abolished, and the county’s board of supervisors would appoint school board members in localities that do not directly elect their school boards.