Former Franklin school board member calls for elections

Published 9:50 am Friday, October 4, 2013

To the Editor:

Years ago, serving on the Franklin City School Board was deemed an honorary position. City Council appointed five members of the community who had been successful in their chosen fields or who served the community in various other ways. Those appointed then were knowledgeable, committed and knew that a strong, vibrant educational system was the basis for success, both for the students and for the community. The superintendent ran the schools and the board was informed of the inner workings of the tasks at hand.

Then, as budgets nationwide became tighter and the public demanded more accountability for expenditures, members of the board became much more involved due to public pressure for well-spent tax dollars. This shift began to occur in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

I was fortunate to serve on the Franklin City School Board during part of the tenure of Superintendent Dr. Alfred Butler. He was well informed regarding the educational issues of the local area, was active in the community and visited each of the three schools every week talking to students, teachers and parents. He had his finger on the pulse of the schools and responded quickly and forcefully when the situation merited such a response.

Dr. Butler would bring to the school board issues that needed to be addressed. He would also bring alternative solutions, the pros and cons of each, and allow the board to make an informed decision regarding the issue. When asked for his recommendation, he was always prepared with one and gave his reasons for doing so.

During my time on the board, membership was changed from five members appointed at-large to seven members, six of whom represented a ward and one at-large. In retrospect, this ward representation system has not worked and must be changed and the sooner the better.

It is time for Franklin to elect school board members, all at-large. The appointment by City Council has not worked and the citizens deserve school board members that are committed and knowledgeable without regard to where they live in the city.

A wise colleague of mine on the school board used to say, “If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten.” Franklin schools are in dire straits and electing a school, all at-large, with two-year terms subject to re-election is a start. This topic has been discussed for several years……it is time to do it!

Bob Holt
Franklin, N.C.