Though Wicomico voters made clear in November that they want the power to directly choose school board members, they’ll have to wait a little longer as a newly selected Nominating Commission will be tasked with filling three open seats by June 30.
The 14-member commission was appointed over the course of two public meetings this month and last by the County Council. Members will interview and select candidates, who will ultimately be appointed by the council.
In November 2018, the school board will be popularly elected within election districts that match the County Council’s.
Term limits will prevent Tyrone Chase and former school board president Ron Willey from continuing beyond June 30, leaving commission members with the task of making 17-month “bridge” appointments prior to the election.
The term for Joe Ollinger, the board’s current vice president, will expire June 30, 2018, which would require a five-month appointment for a single seat next year.
Ollinger, however, said this week that he is considering resigning effective this June, thereby allowing the commission to select three members.
“There are some benefits,” Ollinger said of his leaving early. “The Nominating Commission would not need to reconvene next year, the newly appointed board member would bridge that five-month gap and, if elected, he or she would add experience to the new school board convening in December 2018.”
Ollinger was appointed in July 2015 and is not constrained by term limits. Even still, he said he would neither be a bridge candidate nor contestant for an elected school board seat.
Previously in Wicomico County, the party Central Committees made the recommendations, although candidates could self-nominate directly to the Maryland Governor’s Office.
The ballot question that established an elected school board also established the Nominating Commission. The 14 members from all over the county will solicit and recommend candidates to fill vacancies that occur in between elections, or in districts where no one files to run.
The newly appointed Nominating Commission members:
- Joan Smith, Wicomico County Education Association.
- Pamela Barclay, Wicomico County Educational Support Professionals Association.
- Michael Adkins, Town of Delmar.
- Dennis DiCintio, City of Fruitland.
- David L. Hooper, Town of Hebron.
- James R. Slacum, Town of Mardela Springs.
- Sherree West, Town of Pittsville.
- Mandel Copeland, City of Salisbury.
- Chrystianna Gosnell, Town of Sharptown.
- Sarah Lynn Wiltback, Town of Willards.
- Benjamin Brumbley, Wicomico Council of PTAs.
- Sarah Edwards, representing Parents of Children with Special Needs.
- Dr. Eddie Boyd Jr., Wicomico County NAACP.
- Charles T. Grey, Wicomico Chambers of Commerce.
School board members are paid $3,700 annually; the commission members serve four-year terms as volunteers.
Greg Bassett is editor and general manager of Salisbury Independent. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org