School board selects new chair, vice chair

The Mecklenburg County School Board has its fourth chair and vice chair in as many calendar years.
At Wednesday’s organizational meeting, by a split vote, the board approved Brent Richey as chair and Wanda Bailey as vice chair, replacing former chair Dale Sturdifen and vice chair Dora Garner, who served in those capacities for the 2016 calendar year.
Both residents of the Lake Gaston area, Richey of District 1 and Bailey of District 3 were each elected to the school board during the November 2015 elections and are members of the board’s five-vote majority that rejects consolidating the county’s four middle and high schools into one consolidated campus in favor of continuing with separate middle and high school systems to serve each end of the county.
Sturdifen and Garner are longstanding proponents of consolidation.
Richey said the leadership change came as a result of the divide on the board and to try something new.
“We were kind of bogged down, and I’m not blaming that on Dale, I really like Dale, I’ve met with Dale a bunch of times, but we just wanted to try something new,” he said.
Richey said he has no current plans to change the current membership of the school board’s standing committees.
While Richey was initially voted chair by a clear majority of the board, the vote on vice chair took place twice after the initial votes on Garner and Bailey came up tied, with District 4 representative Lindell Palmer abstaining. On the second round of voting, Palmer voted in favor of Bailey.
During nominations for parliamentarian, Sturdifen, District 5 representative Gavin Honeycutt and Garner were all nominated but declined the nomination. Honeycutt then said, “I’ll take that back. In order to serve the schools, the children and the school board, yes, I will take the parliamentarian position.” He was approved by a majority of the board.
Paula Giammatteo was reappointed school board clerk, and Sharon Shuttleworth deputy clerk.
Assistant superintendent Dr. Kristy Somerville-Midgette and Director of Secondary Instruction Joan Hite were appointed the superintendent’s designees to sign official correspondence for the superintendent in the superintendent’s absence. Somerville-Midgette was appointed the superintendent’s designee for meeting attendance.
Garner was reappointed the school system’s governor’s school delegate, and Palmer was appointer her alternate.
Regular school board meetings will continue to take place on the third Monday of each month, aside from January when the meeting will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
Codes of conduct for the school board and school board clerk were tabled pending further review.