By Allison Landry
Capital News Service
RICHMOND –The House has passed a bill to eliminate the school board selection commissions in localities such as Southampton County and to have the county supervisors appoint the school board instead.
Delegates unanimously approved House Bill 1926 last week and sent it to the Senate. On Monday, the bill was referred to the Senate Education and Health Committee.
The bill’s sponsor, Delegate Rick Morris, R-Carrollton, said the goal is to make school boards more accountable to the public.
“I strongly believe that when the citizen’s tax money is being spent, (the government agency) needs to be held accountable in some way,” Morris said. “And the school board selection commission has no accountability to the citizens because they are appointed by an unelected judge.”
Until 1991, school boards in Virginia were appointed. A year later, the General Assembly gave localities the option of having voters elect school board members. That’s now the practice in the vast majority of the state’s 134 school districts.
Southampton County is among the 24 school districts in which school board members are still appointed. In those districts, the school boards can be appointed by the county’s governing board or by a school board selection commission.
If HB 1926 passes the Senate, the selection commissions would be abolished, and the county’s board of supervisors would appoint school board members in localities that do not directly elect their school boards.