Interim tag removed

Published 7:40 pm Friday, November 9, 2012

WINDSOR – The Bertie County Board of Education removed the interim tag from Superintendent of Schools Elaine White here Friday evening.

The board voted 4-1 to offer White a contract through June 2014 to serve as Superintendent of Schools. While White’s appointment was well-received by many, even some of the supporters were left questioning the timing of the decision.

The decision was made just 21 days before two newly elected board members will take their seats and also minutes before a board member – Pamela Chamblee – resigned her seat.

Despite the circumstances, Board of Education Chair Gloria C. Lee said it was important to move forward with the naming of White and provide stability to the district.

“We started working on this earlier and we thought it was important to move forward and provide stability for the school system,” said Lee, who will be retiring from office Dec. 1.

Board member Rickey Freeman offered the motion to name White Superintendent of Schools and his motion was supported by Lee, Chamblee and Alton Parker. Vice Chair Emma Johnson cast the dissenting vote.

Johnson said she was not opposed to White becoming superintendent, but felt board members-elect Bobby Occena and Tarsha Bush-Dudley should have been allowed to be part of the board before the decision was made.

“I did not vote against Mrs. White, I voted against the timing,” Johnson said. “I felt that Mr. Occena and Mrs. Dudley should have been in on the process. I think it should have waited until December.

“That was my objection,” she continued. “Mrs. White has done an outstanding job and I am happy to have her. I just felt the timing was wrong.”

For his part, Occena said he was also concerned about the timing.

“I was surprised when Mrs. Chamblee resigned and I was also surprised when the board went forward with Mrs. White’s contract,” he said. “It has nothing to do with Mrs. White. My concern is simply the timing.”

Occena said the board began discussions about the contract days before the Nov. 6 election and then took the vote just three days following the balloting which put both he and Dudley in office.

“I hope nothing happens, but if it does, I’m going to be on the board and I’m going to be responsible,” he said.

Occena did, however, say he supported White and indeed was one of those who pushed for her to be named interim superintendent.

Dudley said she was not able to say much about the situation.

“I do not have enough information to allow me to make an objective comment about the decision made by the current board,” she said. “I will say that I am looking forward to working with Mrs. White.”

White takes over the reins after having served six months as interim. Overall, she has 47 years of experience in education, a bulk of which was spent as a principal.

“I am very pleased,” she said. “I am honored and pleased with the confidence the board has in me to do the job.”

White said she spent time thinking about the position when the board talked to her about staying.

“I asked myself why I wanted to do this,” she said. “The answer was that I still look forward to going to work every morning. I still feel I have something to offer the kids.”

White said her initial reservations about not being in a school had been quelled.

“I have learned that I can do just as much for children, and perhaps more, from this office than I was able to do from the school level,” she said. “It is just as important to work for the kids now as it has been at any time in my career.”