Ernie Colburn: Chamber survey finds elected school board backing

Within the past several weeks, the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce commissioned an online survey with our membership asking one straightforward question: “Do you think Wicomico County should have an elected school board?”

Legislation in Annapolis would have posed the question of an elected school board to the voters on the general election ballot in November 2016. Five of the board’s members would be elected every five years, with an additional two appointed by the Wicomico County Executive and one student member to serve a one-year term.

The results of the Chamber survey are as follows:

  • Voting “yes” for an elected school board: 72 percent.
  • Voting “no” for an elected school board: 21 percent.
  • Undecided: 7 percent.

What was interesting 35 percent of the responses included “comments” and they were many and varied.

For example, one respondent said that they “do not agree with appointed people with taxpayers money from someone making the decision from the other side of the bridge.”

Others said that “the entire board should be elected and the county executive should NOT have the authority to appoint two individuals” and “the board should be made up of the best teachers and/or principals; also with positions for students and at least on law enforcement officer.”

Another respondent said that “(they) believe the people whose tax dollars go toward our school system should have a say in who is on their board of education,” and another posed the question “why should appointed positions be able to indicate where my tax dollars go without any consequence?”

These are just a few examples of what the public is saying.

What these examples show is that there is a continued need for a dialogue on this matter before it is posted on the ballot.

The Chamber is more than willing to establish multi-public forums over the next few months, thus making sure this subject is fully vetted for introduction next year in the General Assembly.

When a single item like the Board of Education commands nearly 50 percent of the county’s annual budget, citizens that are paying those taxes have the right to express their opinions, pro or con.

Let’s have the citizens speak, be heard, and hopefully move forward on a matter that’s been kicked down the road far too long without resolution.

Let’s get it right and move on.

Ernie Colburn is President & CEO of the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce. Reach him at


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