Craven Co. commissioners draft resolution to change Board of Education positions to partisan

New Bern

NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — Craven County commissioners are considering a resolution that would include party affiliation for each candidate running for the school board.

After seeing a large number of voters did not cast a ballot for the school board, some commissioners felt like something needed to change.

“After this last election, a number of citizens came to us and said, ‘We didn’t know the candidates and what they stood for’,” said Jason Jones, chairman of the Craven County Board of Commissioners.

Commissioners proposed a resolution at their work session meeting in March. If the resolution is passed, school board members would be elected by district, with party affiliation, during the general election, much like the board of commissioners.

“I think it allows more folks the opportunity to be able to run for office because it doesn’t cost as much to run by districts, to get your name out there,” said Jones.

But, not everyone agrees.

“If this changes, it will fundamentally change how school boards operate,” said Kim Rice Smith, vice chairperson of the Board of Education during a March meeting.

During that meeting, the Craven County Board of Education passed a resolution unanimously stating they want to remain a non-partisan body. The group thinks politics doesn’t have a place in the school system.

“I do think it’s all political, and I know we all think it’s political, so, the only thing we can do is write our conscience,” said Frances Boomer, chairperson of the Board of Education.

However, Jones thinks politics and education already overlap.

“To me that’s not an argument, for me as an individual citizen, and a voter who has seen what goes on in the political arena, it is very much politicized already,” said Jones.

The Craven County commissioners are opening the floor for public comment on the resolution at their meeting on April 5 before they take a vote. The meeting will be held at the convention center. The room can only hold around 160 people and it will be first come first serve.

If the proposed resolution is passed at the meeting, it will be passed on to state legislators to bring into the General Assembly to pass as a local bill.

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