Wake board chair to have more power?

Ron Margiotta

March 2, 2011 12:20:10 PM PST
The Wake County Board of Education is considering if it will vote on whether to ask the state legislature to change one of its policies that would give the board chair more voting power.

Currently, the chairman can only vote to break a tie as per a state statute created when Raleigh City and Wake County schools merged.

Wake County Board of Education Chair Ron Margiotta says by not being able to have a regular vote, he's not able to represent his constituents in District 8 - which include parts of Cary, Apex, and Holly Springs.

"I've always believed that the board chair should be able to vote and let the public know where they stand on the issues," Margiotta said. "It's just logical to me. The public doesn't have any idea where I stand on any issue, although most cases they do - in my case they probably do."

Margiotta often found himself in the minority on many votes before the new majority was elected in November 2009.

If the board agrees to the vote change, it would need to bring the issue to state lawmakers.

"I personally don't see a reason to change it at this point," board member Kevin Hill said.

Hill served as the board chair for six months before the Republican majority took over and ousted him.

"I think the policy that we have in place has served us well over the years, in fact, since 1976," Hill said.

Hill says the chair has ways to let his or her opinion be known and to be the voice of his or her district.

"While I served in leadership I was able to represent my district in terms of helping set the agenda, behind the scenes discussions with leadership or other board members, attending all the committee meetings and participating fully in committee meetings," he added.

ABC11 Eyewitness News called other school districts to see if school board chairs have more voting power.

In Johnston County, the board chair may vote on all motions.

However, in Durham, Cumberland, Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, the board chair votes regularly on issues -- just like other board members.

Changing the policy in Wake requires legislative approval.

With a Republican General Assembly, the Republican school board chair says the timing is right.

"I believe at the present time we have a good opportunity to have legislative approval for this," Margiotta said.

The school board will have to act quickly. The board missed Tuesday's deadline to draft Senate bills, but it still has two weeks to have a bill drafted in the house.

Margiotta's term expires this November. He has not said whether he will run for re-election.

Prior to moving to Wake County, Margiotta was elected to a school board in the Northeast where he also served as board president for six years.

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