The Republican school board contingent that drew national attention to Wake County after taking power in 2009 will continue to dwindle in the aftermath of Tuesday’s elections.
When four new Republican members joined incumbent GOP veteran Ron Margiotta in 2009, the board served amid controversy from its first day in office. The new majority eventually removed diversity as a factor in student assignment and made other big-picture changes in Wake schools, now the nation’s 16th largest system.
A transition that began with Margiotta’s losing his seat and the board majority shifting to Democrats in 2011 continued Tuesday with board member Chris Malone up for replacement now that he’s apparently won election to the state House.
And former board Vice Chairman John Tedesco, who lost his bid for state superintendent of public instruction Tuesday, said he’s unsure whether he’ll run for re-election next year, when all the slots held by the Republican minority will be on the ballot.
“The campaign has financially pretty much cost me most of my money, taking resources from my family,” Tedesco said Wednesday. “I really feel that I need to prayerfully deliberate on what’s best for my family.”
Tedesco said he planned to finish out his term, which runs through November 2013, even if he doesn’t run next year.
Debra Goldman, another member elected in 2009, said previously that she, too, would continue her service on the board if she were to lose her bid to become state auditor, as she did Tuesday.
Goldman’s run for statewide office was hurt by the recent emergence of a police narrative about a 2010 break-in at her Cary home. In the narrative, investigators wrote that Goldman implicated Malone as a suspect. Malone was cleared of any involvement in the break-in, but he told police he did have a “heated” romantic relationship with Goldman.
Since the report was leaked by an unknown source, Goldman has told reporters that Malone’s statements in the report were not true. Malone, who had said he would discuss the police report after the election, changed his position Wednesday.
“I’m just going to say nothing and take the high road,” he said. “It’s in the past. I’m moving forward. I see no reason to address it again.”
Both Goldman and Malone are married, but Goldman is now going through a divorce.
Goldman has not said whether she will run for re-election, leaving a possible scenario under which Deborah Prickett might be the only Republican board member in position to run for re-election next year. Efforts to reach Goldman on Wednesday were unsuccessful.
School board issues
Meanwhile, the school board has on its plate issues including the completion of a temporary assignment plan for next year, a more permanent one for 2014-2015 and beyond, the preparation of a bond issue for school construction, and the hiring of a new superintendent.
“The community has high expectations for the Board of Education, and I’m not sure we’ve been living up to those high expectations,” school board Chairman Kevin Hill, a Democrat, said. “We hold high expectations for our students and our teachers, and we need to be held to high expectations as well.”
Malone can resign any time before he’s sworn in at the General Assembly in January. On Wednesday, he said he was waiting for Lori Millberg, his Democratic opponent for the state House 35 seat, to concede. Millberg, a former school board member, said she’s waiting for the election results to become final.
“To talk about (resigning) now would be presumptuous of me, and I don’t want to do that,” Malone said. “I can say there’s a possibility I’d leave before the end of the year.”
Malone said he wants to stay on through at least Tuesday’s presentation of the draft 2013-14 student assignment plan, which would affect several schools in his district.
Millberg said she is “absolutely not” interested in returning to the school board.
Tedesco’s campaign cost
While Malone succeeded, the campaigns for state office had consequences for Tedesco.
Tedesco entered the race for state schools superintendent as the most outspoken of the Republican school board members, appearing on national television and being lampooned by cable television satirist Stephen Colbert for his support of neighborhood schools. During the campaign, Tedesco had said he planned to seek re-election to the school board if he wasn’t elected superintendent.
But Tedesco said Wednesday he’ll be seeking full-time employment because contesting the election caused him to use most of his life savings. He is no longer paid, as he was last year, in his position as president of the N.C. Center for Education Reform.
“This is a decision I need to make with my family,” he said.
Staff writer Thomas Goldsmith contributed to this report.