Why did Parrish, Smith oppose school board bill?

Published 11:18 am Friday, February 22, 2013

To the Editor:

I have been following the efforts of Del. Richard Morris to make the selection of Southampton County School Board members more open to the public.

As a resident of Southampton County, I support an elected school board and appreciate what Del. Morris and The Tidewater News have done to make it happen.

It concerns me that Superintendent Dr. Alvera Parrish and School Board Chairman Chris Smith saw fit to go to Richmond to lobby against the bill to allow the Southampton County supervisors to choose school board members.

It was my understanding that the bill was an interim measure to make the process more open and representative of the population until a campaign might be launched to establish an elected school board.

The explanations for their lobbying were first, that they didn’t know about the bill being presented, and second, the change would no longer allow voters to change the process by placing a referendum on the ballot.

Signatures from 10 percent of the registered voters in Southampton County would be required (“Senate committee kills Southampton school board selection bill,” Feb. 15). Does this second explanation mean that they are in favor of an elected school board?

I don’t recall any public criticism of the three-member selection committee, the school board or the school administrators. The idea is to have the school board, and by extension, the school administration more accountable to the public.

The lobbying effort in Richmond last week strikes me as an unnecessary defensive move. Why would they feel threatened by changing the board selection process in this way? I would like to know how Dr. Parrish and Mr. Smith really feel about this and why.

Bryan W. Holloman