School board seats up for grabs

Published 11:11 am Monday, June 6, 2016

The Southampton County Public School Board Selection Commission will host a public hearing at 11 o’clock on Tuesday morning at the school board office complex, 21308 Plank Road in Courtland. This is in regard to the ending terms of the Capron and Drewryville seats held by vice chairman Jim Pope and Donna Rountree, respectively. Each is actively seeking a second four-year term.

“I would like to continue to build on the progress we have made over the last four years with student achievement and continue to build on our relationship with the board of supervisors and the community,” Pope said. “[If reappointed,] I will continue working with our board to provide a safe and successful learning environment for not only the students, but for our staff as well.”

Both incumbents were appointed in 2012, with Pope replacing the late Russell Schools — who retired after 41 years on the board — and Rountree unseating Becky Blackburn, who served on the board for 23 years. The district does not yet know if they will be challenged on Tuesday.

“We don’t know until we actually have the hearing,” said Southampton County Public Schools Executive Assistant Lavern Artis. “At that time, they’ll present their case.”

Southampton County is one of 24 out of Virginia’s 134 school districts where voters do not choose school board members. Instead, a selection commission is comprised of chairman Mark Hodges, Wayne Cosby and Larry Rose. Most districts changed from appointed to elected school boards after the General Assembly enacted legislation in 1992 permitting them to do so.

In Franklin, city council chooses the school board, while voters do so in Isle of Wight County.

Under the appointment system, the Southampton County Circuit Court appoints three members to four-year terms on the selection commission. According to state law, commission members must be qualified voters who live within the county and are not county or state officers or employed by the school board to which they appoint.

Appointments will take place one week from the hearing at the same time and location.