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School Board splits on elections

3-2 decision angers Clayton Mullis, whose alternative plan was rejected

SARAH LOWERY
Staff Writer

The Lincoln County Board of Education decided in a split vote Wednesday night which districts from the new redistricting plan will be up for election this year.
Following a motion by board member George Dellinger proposing that District 1, in which school board member Tommy Houser and at-large member Kelly Childers reside; District 3, in which vice chair Candy Burgin and chair Ed Hatley reside; District 4, in which Dellinger residee, be up for election in 2012.
Houser seconded the motion, which passed 3-2, with Burgin and board member Clayton Mullis opposing.
Childers was absent from the meeting. Hatley, who as chair can vote to break or create a tie, did not participate.
The current terms of Houser, Childers, Hatley and Dellinger, all elected under the old district plan, are set to expire this year. However, Burgin has two more years in her term and would not normally seek re-election this year.
Under the new arrangement, District 2, in which Mullis resides, and District 5, in which board member Bob Silver resides, will now be up for election in 2014, along with the other newly created at-large seat. Mullis and Silver were already set to be up for re-election in two years.
The new set of election districts was unanimously approved at the school board’s December meeting and is made up of two at-large seats and five seats from districts based on population. Additionally, under this plan, the districts are shaped as unbroken, compact parcels of land, as opposed to the multiple, noncontiguous islands proposed in some of the other 15 plans the board considered.
Prior to approving this arrangement for elections, the board rejected a proposal from Mullis, who had suggested that District 1, District 2 and District 4 be up for election this year, along with the at-large seat. This was seconded by Burgin but failed to win approval from the remaining board members.
Mullis contacted the Times-News Thursday morning to offer his comments on the board’s decision.
“I’m disappointed in how the board voted last night,” he said. “I’m disappointed that Mrs. Burgin is in the position that she’s in,” referring to her effectively being re-districted out of a seat to run for when her term expires in 2014.
Mullis said he thinks board members “need to do their jobs instead of trying to protect their seats.”
“The decision was immoral and showed a lack of integrity and character,” he said. “I’m disappointed because it makes the whole board look bad.”
Mullis said he favors terms limits for Board of Education members and said this vote reinforces his view.
Under a new law passed by the Legislature in 2011, the Lincoln County board’s districts will have to be redrawn after each decennial U.S. Census. Under the plan, the districts dictate where a board member must live, but voters countywide can participate in choosing each member.
After the vote Wednesday, Hatley said he wanted to commend the board for what has been a “long, arduous process.”
In other action at Wednesday’s meeting, the board unanimously approved conducting Superintendent Dr. Sherry Hoyle’s evaluation using a state-approved tool and with all board members’ involvement and approval. It is set to be carried out on May 20, about a month in advance of when it is required to be completed.

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