Wake Ed

Tom Benton elected new chairman of Wake County school board

Wake County school board member Tom Benton listens to a public speaker session Tuesday, November 18. 2014 during a Wake County school board public hearing on the 2015-16 student assignment proposal at the Wake County Public School System Central Services Building in Cary.
Wake County school board member Tom Benton listens to a public speaker session Tuesday, November 18. 2014 during a Wake County school board public hearing on the 2015-16 student assignment proposal at the Wake County Public School System Central Services Building in Cary. tlong@newsobserver.com

The Wake County school board unanimously elected Tom Benton on Tuesday to be its new board chairman.

Benton, an education consultant and retired Wake principal, will take over as the official spokesman of the board after having served as vice chairman for the past two years. He replaces Christine Kushner, who stepped down as board chairwoman after two years in that position.

Benton, who represents Wake Forest, Rolesville and East Wake on the board, said state leaders need to step up to do more to support teachers. He also cited a need to discuss changing the state’s A through F school grading system and the state’s school calendar law which limits when traditional-calendar schools can start and end the school year.

“We are at a critical place in the history of education in North Carolina,” said Benton, who was elected in 2013. “Are our state leaders going to step forward?”

Monika Johnson-Hostler, executive director for the N.C. Coalition Against Sexual Assault, was unanimously elected to replace Benton as the new board vice chairwoman. Johnson-Hostler said her life shows what African-American women can do as she referenced civil rights leader Rosa Parks in her speech..

Johnston-Hostler was elected in 2013 and represents Garner and much of Fuquay-Varina.

Both Benton and Johnson-Hostler noted that the entire board could be replaced next year because of redistricting changes made by the General Assembly. In addition to changing the lines for all the board members, all nine seats are on the November 2016 ballot.

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