Wake school board member Tom Benton to run for election this fall

khui@newsobserver.comJuly 3, 2013 

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Wake County school board member Tom Benton talks during the joint meeting between sthe chool board members and the Wake County Board of Commissioners Thursday, April 18, 2013.

TAKAAKI IWABU — tiwabu@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

Wake County school board member Tom Benton announced Wednesday that he will run for election for the district that represents Eastern Wake, Wake Forest and Rolesville.

In a written statement, Benton focused on his more than 30 years of education experience in the Raleigh City and Wake County school systems. He also pointed to the work he’s done since joining the board this year, including adopting the budget, determining the projects that will be funded by this fall’s $810 million school construction bond referendum and hiring Jim Merrill to be the new superintendent.

“I pledge to work tirelessly with our principals, teachers, parents, and business and civic leaders to meet the high standards we will set for each of our schools,” said Benton, 62, of Zebulon, in a written statement. “I am determined to make a difference for the children of District 1 and all of Wake County.”

Benton was appointed to the school board in February to finish out the unexpired term of Chris Malone, which runs through November. Malone resigned to take a seat in the state House.

Benton was picked from a field of eight applicants, some of whom may opt to contest Benton this fall for the District 1 seat. The district currently covers Wake Forest, Rolesville, Wendell, Zebulon, part of Knightdale and part of North Raleigh.

Benton has joined his fellow Democrats in the officially non-partisan board for major votes such as restoring diversity as a factor in student assignment policy and hiring Merrill to be the new superintendent.

“I’ve gained valuable experience since joining the Board and I am determined to make a difference in District 1,” he said in a written statement

Benton, currently an education consultant, spent most of his 32-year education career in Wake.

He started his career in the area as a teacher at Enloe High School in Raleigh in 1973. He later was a principal at Zebulon High School when it was converted to a middle school. He retired as principal of Durant Road Middle School in Raleigh in 2005.

A bill passed last month by the state legislature will change how and when Wake school board members are elected. Most of the changes wouldn’t go into effect until 2016.

One immediate impact though is that the four school board seats on this year’s ballot will only be up for three-year terms instead of the normal term of four years.

The Oct. 8 school board elections will be held on the same day that Wake County voters are asked to decide on an $810 million school construction bond referendum.

This fall’s elections will also run under the existing boundaries adopted by the school board in 2011.

In 2016, all nine school board seats would be on the ballot under new boundaries drawn up by the legislature.

Hui: 919-829-4534

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