School Board Reflects on Elections
There were odd dynamics at work in this year's election for the Moore County Board of Education
Of the eight members, four were up for re-election this year. Of those, just Lorna Clack had anyone run against her - and defeated her.
Political newcomer Ben Cameron will be the sole new presence on the board, representing District 1.
Looking back on Tuesday's result, Moore County School Board Chairwoman Kathy Farren was somewhat at loss to understand the dynamic.
"I don't know why we ran unopposed, but I think the majority in the community are pleased with how the board is running, they seem happy with our new superintendent Aaron Spence, and they seem to have the opinion that not a lot of change needs to be made," Farren said.
At the same time, however, Farren said, "Nothing at all against Lorna, but I keep hearing that a little change on the board is a good thing, while a lot of change is not.
"Ben Cameron is a new face, and it may be that people wanted to see that small bit of change in the board. That's purely my guess."
One controversial issue faced by the board - last year's closing of the popular Academy Heights Elementary School - seemed to have little bearing in Clack's loss. The school, located in Taylortown, was closed to help absorb an $8.2 million funding shortfall from the state.
"Since Academy Heights was in my district, I would think that I would be the one to have had competition for my seat if that was a big issue," Farren said. "I believe people have closure now, and placing the students in Pinehurst Elementary and West Pine Elementary schools has been a good fit for most families. Most of the teaching staff has remained intact as well, which has helped to allow for continuity."
Cameron, who has expressed a wish to bring "a fresh perspective" to the school system, said he would begin by "making sure I'm up to speed" on everything.
"I will be learning a lot in order to make informed decisions, and getting better acquainted with everything involved with the board and the school system," he said. "I am humbled by the confidence the voters placed in me and will do all I can for the children of Moore County."
Farren agreed with Cameron's approach.
"When he gets on the board he needs to do a lot of listening," she said. "When I began I had a huge learning curve. I thought I would be doing 'A, B and C,' but it turned out to be 'X, Y and Z.' In other words, it was completely different from what I thought I would be doing. I came to realize that the school board doesn't do what I thought it would do, and used the first six months of the year to really listen and learn."
Cameron said his interest in joining the board "revolves around my ties to the area and my vested interest in Moore County schools."
"I am the proud parent of a second-grader, so the future of our school system will be impacting me on a daily basis for the next 10 years," he said. "I want to use this connection with the system and the area to make Moore County schools better for everyone."
Farren said that student learning through technology will continue to be a focus for her in her next term.
"I am a big fan of technology, and will be working with teachers and staff to learn more about how to utilize this approach in the classroom," she said. "We will use these tools to continue moving forward as we 'grow to greatness.'"
Farren also had high praise for Superintendent Aaron Spence.
"I am excited to continue working with our new superintendent," she said. "Dr. Spence is a great man, very intelligent, as was his predecessor, Dr. Susan Purser. I thought when she retired that it would be hard for the next person to fill her shoes. She was a great superintendent, and just what was needed at that time. For him to come in and accomplish what he has speaks well of him, of her, and of the staff, who all made it a seamless flow."
Cameron, along with re-elected board members Farren, Bruce Cunningham and Laura Lang, will be sworn in on Dec. 3 at the school administration headquarters at 5277 U.S. 15-501 South in Carthage.
Contact John Lentz at (910) 693-2479 or jlentz@ thepilot.com.
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