Filing deadline is Friday for openings on western Sussex County school boards

By Lynn R. Parks

Time is running short for people interested in running for seats on area school boards to throw their hats in the ring. Four seats are available on school boards in western Sussex County and as of Monday, only one candidate, Harvey Hyland, a member of the Laurel School Board, had filed to run. Another candidate, Shawn Brittingham, who has served two terms on the Delmar School Board, said Monday that he planned to file for reelection. "I will be seeking my third term," he said. Deadline for candidates to file is Friday. Brittingham said that he understands why people aren't lining up to serve on school boards. "It's a thankless job," he said. "Very seldom do you hear a compliment. Mostly it's complaints about this or that." In addition, Brittingham said, area schools face funding shortages that make running them the best way possible difficult. "Our schools are under-funded," he said. In western Sussex, home to some of the poorest areas in the county, "schools don't have the student count to bring in enough money." Brittingham acknowledged that five-year terms might discourage people from running for school boards. In Sussex County, only the Indian River School District, whose school board members serve for three years, have shorter terms. "That's a long time," Brittingham said. But on the other hand, "it takes you three or four years to really understand everything that they are talking about," he added. "Running schools is very complicated. Even now, after 10 years on the board, I sometimes have to say, 'Stop – I don't know what you mean.'" Brittingham dismisses the notion that school board members, who receive no salary, should be paid.

"I don't want every village idiot to come out of the woodwork thinking they can get $3,000 or $4,000," he said. In addition, any salary would have to come out of local funds and "local funding is very tight." Brittingham said that he decided to run for a third term because he believes that he is doing a good job. "I had to decide whether I wanted to do this for another five years, and whether I think there is somebody out there who could to a better job," he said. "I'm confident about what I do." In Seaford, the seat of three-term member and former board president William Parmelee is up for election. Parmelee did not return a request for comment. In the Woodbridge district, Shawn Bowman's seat is up for grabs. While Bowman did not return requests for comment, he has indicated that he will not file for reelection. For your information The deadline to file as a candidate for area school boards is 4:30 p.m. Friday, March 7. The Delmar, Laurel, Seaford and Woodbridge school boards all have one, five-year seat open. Elections will be held Tuesday, May 13. For information, contact the Sussex County Department of Elections, 856-5367, or visit www.electionssc.

News tips wanted
Call us with ideas for news and features. We're always looking for good stories to share with readers. Call Bryant Richardson at 629-9788.