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Voters decide in favor of elected school board

In a special election, citizens of Selma voted 86 percent to 14 percent to make the Selma City School Board an elected body, instead of one appointed by the city council. 1,527 ballots were cast at 17 precincts across the city. Of those ballots cast, 1,308 read yes, and 219 read no.

According to City Attorney Jimmy Nunn, the Selma City Council will call a special election as soon as possible to determine new members of the school board.

“I’m going to work with any board member as long as we are working together to serve the children,” said Superintendent Dr. Austin Obasohan.

Instead of the current 11-member board, the new board will consist of four members from four districts with a chairman elected at large. School Board District 1 will be composed of city Wards 1 and 2, School Board District 2 will be composed of city Wards 4 and 5, School Board District 3 will be composed of city Wards 3 and 8 and School Board District 4 will be composed of Wards 6 and 7. Candidates must live in the district to run for a position on the board.

While she supports an elected school board, president Barbara Stapp-Hiouas said she is concerned with all-new board members coming in at once without much experience. Instead of phasing in new members like in the past, she said a totally new board could disrupt progress made in the school system.

“I’m sorry that this particular bill went through the way it was written because I foresee a lot of problems,” Stapp-Hiouas said. “If that’s what the people want, that’s what the people get.”

Vice-president the Rev. Winston Williams said some good could come out of this change. He said board members would be held accountable by the people who elected them now.

“I think the people have spoken, and that’s what they want,” Williams said.

Williams said he is not considering running for election to the school board. Stapp-Hiouas said she has not thought about running for election at this time.