by Travis Fain
The N.C. House voted Monday to let Wake County's School Board chairman vote on all board issues, not just to break a tie.
Currently the board's "presiding officer," which is generally Chairman Ron Margiotta, but falls to Vice Chair Debra Goldman when Margiotta is absent, votes only to break ties on the nine-member board. House Bill 498 would make the presiding officer a regular voting member.
The bill passed the House 71-47 Monday, but must be voted on again to move to the Senate. That's likely to happen Wednesday, though an amendment may be forthcoming to formally set the dates the board votes for its chair and vice-chair, sponsoring state Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, said.
Wake Democrats spoke against the bill Monday, with state Rep. Grier Martin saying the board needs a chairman who can be "a facilitator, a deal maker." Because of an ongoing, and racially charged, debate over school attendance zones, Wake's board is probably the most contentious in the state, Martin said.