A former school board member has been chosen to return to her post to fill a position made vacant by recent resignations.
Former school board member Pam Thompson was nominated in a 5-0 vote to fill one of two at-large positions left vacant following the resignations of three board members. Sue Black, Ben Cameron and Kathy Farren resigned last week, with the fourth, Becky Carlson, having submitted her resignation to take effect on June 14. The four resigned following controversy over the firing, and subsequent re-hiring, of Moore County Schools Superintendent Bob Grimesey.
Thompson, who served one term on the board from 2006 through 2010 as an at-large member, and is currently on the board of trustees of Sandhills Community College, said she had "mixed emotions" to be back on the school board.
"I am very happy to have been appointed to the board, but am sorry to have to resign my position at Sandhills," Thompson said. "To give my full attention to the school board, and with potential conflicts in meeting times and other issues, I feel it is best that I step down from the college board."
The specially called meeting, held Thursday at the school administrative offices in Carthage, took place to both fill one board vacancy and to consider the process for adding three additional positions. In addition to Carlson's at-large seat, Farren's District 2, Black's at-large and Cameron's District 1 seats remain unfilled.
Board member Ed Dennison nominated Thompson.
"I've put a great deal of thought into this emergency recommendation, and these are the traits I would like to see," he said. "(We need someone) who has true passion for students and staff, someone who makes their own decisions, and someone the community could accept as an interim board member.
"The new board member should be a woman, because we have only one woman after Becky's resignation becomes effective. A member of a minority group, because our board needs to diversify. Someone with strong ties to Sandhills Community College … and someone with school experience. I nominate Pam Thompson."
Cunningham emphasized the importance of the ties between the school boards and the college, a reference to the future "concept" high school that offers college level courses to Moore County high school students. Sandhills is a possible location for the school, with officials from each organization currently in joint communication on the subject.
"One of our priorities going forward is working closely with Sandhills," he said. "And there are many fine attributes to Pam Thompson that I think will be well received."
Board members then discussed the timeline for applying for one of the remaining three positions.
"We have more than 40 applicants at this point," Cunningham said. "We are looking for candidates with a passion for students and teachers, and I want to emphasize that we are looking for candidates from all walks of life."
In other news, Grimesey's administrative assistant Sonya Potter was named to add the position of board clerk, vacated by recently resigned Cathy McRae, to her responsibilities.
"My recommendation is to allow Potter to assume the role," Grimesey said.
That vote passed unanimously.
Cunningham said he was encouraged by the "good progress" made as a result of the meeting.
"There were a lot of 'good vibes' today," he said. "We are going in the right direction, and I think a lot of positive things will result from a period that was both chaotic and encouraging.
"We're headed for a place that is better than where we've ever been."