Wilson County District 20 Commissioner Annette Stafford is taking action to ensure that citizens receive more representation on the Wilson County Board of Education in the coming years, and after hearing feedback from her constituents, she decided to spearhead efforts to add two new members to the current five-member board.
“Right now, each member represents about 24,000. I thought if we could spread it out and make it more even – have members represent 15,000 or so people – it would take a little of the load off. There are surrounding counties that have less people and more school board members,” she said, adding that Sumner County has 11 board members representing a population of 136,000. “Wilson County is growing so big and people feel out of touch with their school board members. When that happens, they reach out to their county commissioner.”
Stafford said this is partly due to the geographic layout of each zone. “When you have a school board member whose zone goes from the Lebanon Square all the way west to the Davidson County line – that is just too far spread out,” she continued.
Wilson County Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall said that four school board members, including Larry Tomlinson (Zone 5), Ron Britt (Zone 4), Wayne McNeese (Zone 1) and Bill Robinson (Zone 2) receive $200 per month for their services to help offset costs such as gasoline to drive to meetings and school functions and cell phone bills. Board Chairman Don Weathers (Zone 3) receives $265 per month.
Stafford said the cost is low for a high payoff in the future of education. “We county commissioners make $400 a month. Really that is a small drop in the bucket for all the gas and the mileage. People in public service don’t do it for the pay – you do it because you want to change the community,” she said.
Her proposal to increase the number of school board representatives to seven will be on the agenda at the Thursday, Jan. 9, meeting of the Education Committee.
“They will vote it up or down and then it could go to the Budget Committee. Then it would go to the State, and Sen. Mae Beavers, State Rep. Susan Lynn and State Rep. Mark Pody would all have to give it their blessing,” Stafford said of the process. It would then be voted up or down by the entire county commission.
She hopes that if the proposal passes through the committees, state and commission, the new school board spots could be placed on the August 2014 election ballot.
Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.