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James Barrett Elected Chair of Chapel Hill – Carrboro City School Board

James Barrett Elected Chair of Chapel Hill – Carrboro City School Board

The Chapel Hill – Carrboro City School System Board of Education has selected new leadership.

Three new members were elected to the Chapel Hill – Carrboro City School Board on November 3, and they have already made their presence felt.

The three newly-elected board members – Rani Dasi, Pat Heinrich and Margaret Samuels – joined together and elected James Barrett as the new chair of the Board of Education.

The three new members, along with Barrett, outnumbered the other three board members who supported Andrew Davidson for chair. Davidson has served as vice chair for the past year under chair Mike Kelley, who chose to not seek re-election.

Board member Michelle Brownstein said at the board meeting last Thursday that this board found itself in unchartered waters.

“The seven of us find ourselves in an unprecedented situation,” she said. “The chair seat is vacant, due to retirement, and three of us have just been sworn in and are working very hard to successfully jump on this moving bus.

“The other four completely empathize with this situation. Turns out we also are on a steep learning curve, because we’re trying to figure out what it takes to be a good board with three new board members. And a functional board.”

Brownstein, who has served as board chair in the past, spoke in favor of Davidson for chair following his tenure as vice chair, saying he is most prepared for the role.

“The closest thing we have is an opportunity to apprentice as vice chair,” she said. “During that year, there is a mentoring that occurs between the chair and the vice chair and that is priceless.

“Just as none of us realizes what truly is involved in being an effective school board member until we actually spend time serving as one, no one knows what it really means to be an effective board chair until you actually serve as one.”

Brownstein warned of the ramifications of heading in a different direction.

“I want to caution us to avoid tearing down something of value until we are certain we have something of value to replace it with,” she said. “I’m referring specifically to determining our chair.

“First, serving as board chair is very difficult. I’m speaking from personal experience, something no one else who is sitting here can do.”

There was no further discussion following Brownstein’s comments before calling for a vote.

Davidson, Brownstein and Annetta Streater – the only incumbent re-elected to the board – voted for Davidson as chair but were outvoted.

Following the election of the chair, Streater, who has served on the board since 2006, was unanimously elected as vice chair.

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