Regarding your editorial in the Feb. 23 edition, “Chowan commissioners overreach on school board terms,” you state that the Chowan Board of Commissioners interfered with the Edenton-Chowan Board of Education when they voted to seek legislation reducing term limits to four years. However, the commission is responsible for funding the Edenton-Chowan school district, so how can its exercise of oversight be construed as interference?
You further disparage the commissioners by implying that these commissioners didn’t know of the county’s fiscal mismanagement prior to 2008. But that debacle, wherein the county squandered some $20 million, resulted in two county managers leaving the scene and an entire new board of commissioners being elected. These new commissioners rescued the county from fiscal failure and restored it to financial soundness. None of the commissioners involved with the financial mismanagement currently sit on the commission board.
You are correct in stating that shorter terms are “ideal.” Shorter terms will encourage more people to run for the school board, thus encouraging fresh ideas and making the board more responsive to the people. Shorter terms and a greater turnover of members will tend to keep the board members from becoming complacent in the status quo and from failing to fully face future challenges. The school board’s desire not to reduce term lengths seems to indicate such complacency.
You falsely state that no one has expressed a concern about lengthy terms directly to the school board. I have been expressing my concern for several years and spoke directly to two of the school board members during the past year.
Since the school board must report to the commissioners for budgets and funding, it is not an equal branch of government. It also is out of step with the other 114 boards of education in North Carolina, of which it is one of only four still retaining six-year terms.
And, yes, Chowan Republicans do desire to challenge every open seat in county government. Further, we have a representative republic form of government; not democratic, and not progressive. The process of changing term lengths is exactly how the process is meant to occur: we elect representatives, in this case county commissioners, and they act in our behalf.
JAMES C. ROBISON