By Michelle Wagner | Outer Banks Voice on December 11, 2019
The Dare County Board of Education is expected to begin accepting applications this week to fill the vacated seat left by Ben Sproul, who stepped down from that board after being elected this November to serve as mayor of Kill Devil Hills.
Sproul, who represented District 2 (Nags Head/Colington/Kill Devil Hills) on the school board, officially resigned from that post on Dec. 8. His term was set to expire in November of 2020.
Sproul was sworn in to his mayoral post on Dec. 9.
School Board Chairman Bea Basnight told the Voice that the schools expected to release the short form application for candidates seeking to be appointed by the board to replace Sproul by Dec. 12, and that the deadline for receiving them would be Jan. 6. “Our aim is to have someone seated by the January meeting,” said Basnight, who noted that it could take longer depending on the number of applications the board received.
Basnight said that while the details of the selection process have not been pinned down, the entire board would receive applications for consideration. “It will definitely be a board decision,” she asserted.
Application requirements, she noted, would include a letter of interest, personal qualifications and a background check. The application will be posted on the Dare County Schools website.
Because Sproul was last elected in 2016 — before the N.C. General Assembly in 2017 passed a bill requiring Dare County and eight other counties to hold partisan school board elections —the process of selecting a replacement would not be partisan in nature. That means the party affiliation of the person succeeding him would not be a consideration in that selection.
Under state statute, vacancies left by board members elected in partisan school board elections — which started in Dare County in 2018 — would be filled by the county’s political party to which that member was affiliated with at the time of his or her election.
With Sproul’s term ending next November, Jen Alexander, who lost in a close race for a seat on the school board last year, has filed to run for that District 2 seat in the 2020 election. Incumbents David Twiddy (At-large), Basnight (District 1) and Mary Ellon Ballance (District 4) have also filed to run for their seats again. The filing deadline will expire on Dec. 20.
As for the board’s appointment next month, Basnight said, “We are looking for the best person to fill the seat.”
In a related matter, the Board of Education unanimously voted on Dec. 10 to have Basnight continue as board chairman and Ballance to remain at her post of vice chairman.