Southampton County chooses an elected school board

Published 10:19 pm Tuesday, November 8, 2022

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Voters in Southampton County made it abundantly clear in the Nov. 8 election that they want an elected school board, as the referendum making this possible received 80.2% “yes” votes.

The question posed to voters was as follows: “Shall the method of selecting the school board be changed from appointment by the school board selection commission to direct election by the voters?”

A total of 5,891 votes came in answering “yes,” according to unofficial results listed on the Virginia Department of Elections website that was reporting all votes as having been counted as of Friday, Nov. 25.

The answer “no” received 1,452 votes, which represented 19.8% of the vote.

The current selection method for the Southampton County School Board involves a circuit court judge appointing three people who comprise the School Board Selection Commission, and that commission selects the school board members.

The county is one of the few localities in Virginia that still uses this method.

Mandy Hall and other parents with children in Southampton County Public Schools helped lead a successful campaign earlier this year to have the referendum added to the ballot for the Nov. 8 election.

Hall was excited on election night to see the choice that voters had made.

“The supporters of the referendum worked very hard for this moment,” she said. “We know that the process will be gradual to get all seats filled with elected school board members but are confident this will bring much needed accountability. It was truly a labor of love, and we all learned a lot in the process.

“There is more work to be done, and now the citizens of Southampton County will have to step up to make sure they have satisfactory representation on the school board,” she said. “We have some amazing staff, students and parents, and we did this for them, as well as the future of our county.”

On Monday, Oct. 31, Virginia State Conference NAACP President Robert N. Barnette Jr. announced the organzation’s full support for an elected school board in Southampton County.

“Congratulations for getting this on the ballot,” he wrote to Hall. “You’re almost there.”

In the Nov. 8 election, three other localities in Virginia voted to change the method of selecting their school boards from appointment by the governing body to direct election by the voters: Alleghany County, the city of Covington and the city of Lexington.