Challenger emerges for school board chair

Published 10:52 am Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Franklin resident and co-founder of the Volunteers in Public Schools program Tom Jones nominated Chuck Lilley, another founding members of VIPS, for the at-large position on the Franklin City Public School Board. That position is held by Edna King, who is the school board chair, and she too was nominated by Franklin resident Debroah Faulk.

Wards 4 and 6 were also under consideration on Monday evening at the Franklin City Council meeting, and incumbents Sherita Ricks-Parker and Dawna Walton were not nominated. Instead, Gwendolyn Blue, the housing service manager with Franklin, nominated Verta Jackson for Ward 4. For the Ward 6 seat, Faith Atkinson, a long-time Franklin High School teacher, nominated Robert Holt.

If selected, King would be entering her third three-year term. She has served as chair for the last two years. A retired educator in math and sciences, King had worked for the Franklin system before finishing her career with Isle of Wight County Public Schools.

Faulk said that King has a deep understanding of the educational process and putting children first.

“She’s been part of the vast improvements in the school system,” Faulk said. “I feel Mrs. Edna King should be given the opportunity to continue to be a part of the improvement of the Franklin City Public Schools system.”

Lilley graduated from Franklin High School and spent his career in the management of the paper mill, working for three different corporations, retiring from the Union Camp Corporation. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Wake Forest University and completed graduate-level course work from Wake Forest and the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. Part of his career was spent in human relations, and Jones said Lilley posses the knowledge of what skills students need to be successful in the workforce.

Lilley also spends hours each week volunteering at Franklin High School and J.P. King Middle School.

“He has invested a considerable amount of time in public education,” Jones said. “He is also very knowledgeable on the system and has a commitment to it. I believe he would be very valuable to the school board.”

Jackson previously served on the school board in Ward 5, beginning in 2007 and her second term expired on June 30, 2013.

Jackson was replaced by Jeanette Austin, who she nominated. She was eligible for another term, but the 2010 Census redistricting moved her home into Ward 4.

Jackson graduated from St. Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, and her work experience includes the IT department at International Paper.

“I believe if appointed, Verta Jackson will work in the best interest of all in the school system and the city of Franklin,” Blue said.

Holt also previously served on the school board and was the board chair. After starting his career with Union Camp, Holt has been a professor in the North Carolina Community College System. He has also worked in human resources.

“I worked under Mr. Holt when he was on and found him to be an excellent school board member,” Atkinson said. “I think the city would benefit greatly from his experience.”

City Council will interview the nominees on May 19 starting at 6 p.m. At a meeting following that, board members will either vote to confirm the nominees for Wards 4 and 6, or re-advertise for a public hearing and seek more nominees.

The city will have to either chose between King and Lilley, or seek additional candidates.

The next regularly scheduled meeting following May 19 will be on June 8.