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Nonpartisan board would better serve everyone

Regardless of our individual political beliefs, for most of us our Clay County school system is the lynchpin of our community. The strength or weakness of the education it offers our children and grandchildren determines not only how well or poorly they’re likely to fare as adults, but it also has a great effect on the state of our present and future Clay County economy. 

For these reasons we believe strongly that the focus of our school system should be the education of its students and not party politics. The current school board is made up of four Republican members and one unaffiliated member. We are grateful that this board voted unanimously to return the school board to a nonpartisan status. 

We are also appreciative that that two of our Republican county commissioners, Scotty Penland and Dwight Penland, also voted in support of returning our school board to a nonpartisan status. 

Scotty Penland spent his career in the Clay County schools, first as a math and science teacher in the middle grades, and then he spent more than three decades as the superintendent of the system. Clearly, he has the background and knowledge to judge whether a partisan or nonpartisan school board is most effective. He has made his views very clear: a nonpartisan board offers the best leadership. 

We likewise gratefully acknowledge Commissioner Dwight Penland’s service to our schools through his lengthy tenure as a volunteer with youth sports. He also voted to return the school board to a nonpartisan status. 

As things now stand, our county cannot on its own turn the structure of our school board to nonpartisan. Unfortunately, former Republican State Representative Roger West sponsored a bill which forced partisan school boards on Clay, Cherokee, and some other counties (House Bill 110, 2015- 2016 legislative session) without so much as a consultation with local officials. Fortunately, Republican Representative Kevin Corbin is willing to sponsor a bill to return Clay County’s school board to a nonpartisan state at the request of our local leaders. Republicans speak often of the importance of local control and we are grateful for Corbin’s interest and hope his efforts will be successful. 

The singular focus of our school board elections should be the welfare of our children and not partisan politics. This is something on which we think we can all agree. Perhaps Clay County, small and rural though we are, through the return of our school board to nonpartisanship, can be the foundation upon which we reject the current divisiveness of our nation and set an example for our country by focusing instead on the things that unite us. 

Clay County Progress

Mailing Address: PO Box 483, Hayesville, NC 28904
Physical Address: 43 Main Street, Hayesville, NC 28904
Phone: 828-389-8431
Fax: 828-389-9997