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Roanoke City Council should take the time to comb the city in selecting a replacement for David Carson on the city’s school board.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
No doubt the qualities that allow David Carson to be an outstanding chairman of the Roanoke School Board will transfer well to his new public service role. Though the 23rd Circuit Court surely will benefit from Carson’s presence on the bench, his tireless, relentless advocacy for every one of the city’s public school children will not be easy to replace.
Members of Roanoke City Council need to scour the city to find the next best advocate for the students — someone who believes that no matter what boulders life has strewn in children’s path, the public has a duty to help level the hurdles. And council members should look for someone with the courage to stand by this conviction even when it means standing up to them and state lawmakers.
Roanoke City Schools has advanced too far and achieved so much under Carson’s tenure as chairman that the public will accept nothing less than continued improvement. The foundation now is strong with a forward-pushing superintendent, a vice chairman more than prepared to step up and a school board populated with dedicated members who each lend their diverse talents and strengths.
Two board members, Annette Lewis and Suzanne Moore, are now up for reappointment. Council plans Monday at 4:30 p.m. to interview them along with two other candidates, Charles Meidlinger and Mary Nash, who seek to replace them on the school board. Then during council’s 7 p.m. meeting, time will be set aside to hear what the public has to say.
Council members might be tempted to name Carson’s replacement from this shallow pool of candidates, but they should resist doing so, even if eventually it turns out the best candidate is among them. There is time to do a thorough search. As often happens when the public believes its representatives serve them well — as Lewis and Moore have — even highly qualified individuals do not contest their reappointments.
A true vacancy, as is now being created, should draw out the best Roanoke has to offer, just as it did two years ago when another outstanding board member, Jason Bingham, resigned. That vacancy encouraged Dick Willis to step forward.
Though Carson’s leadership has been truly outstanding, with as many smart, dedicated and talented people as Roanoke has, he can be replaced.
Roanoke schools might not see the likes of David Carson any time soon, but if council finds a new member half as dedicated to public education, city students will be in remarkable hands.
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