RANDOLPH COUNTY — A new member was sworn in Monday to the Randolph County Board of Education, and familiar faces returned to their prominent roles.
Gary Cook was sworn into office Monday, and after his previous appointment as chairman, he was again provided the opportunity to serve in the role. The 16-year veteran of the board was approved by his fellow board members for another year as chairman.
“It’s an honor to be chair and serve with all you guys on the board,” Cook said. “I think I’ve said before, you guys have been like family to me and I really appreciate working on everything we do.”
Cook joined Tracy Boyles and Sharon Petty Farlow as the incumbent members of the board to return, taking their oaths this week for a new term. Coming onto the board for a new term is Mike Sink, who also took his oath of office Monday.
Cook, the owner of Marathon gas station in Archdale, joined the board in 2004. Boyles, chief of Farmer Fire Department, took his first oath as a member of the board in 2012. Farlow is the executive director of the Petty Museum, event coordinator of Reverie Place and a retired school teacher of 32 years. She came onto the board in 2016.
Brian Biggs was nominated by Cook to serve as vice chair. Elected to the board in 2014, Biggs is a realtor at Allred and Co. Realty. He drew the praise of the board chairman for his ability to lead through a tremendously difficult time in 2020.
“I know there’s times over the past year that I’ve called and I’ve been aggravated and needed someone to vent and listen to,” Cook said. “It’s just been a tough year, but you’ve listened and I appreciate you being there and listening. I’m thankful we’ve been able to have those good conversations.”
Many of the challenging conversations had between board members focused on the return of students to campus this fall. Each board member understood the value of students being inside the classroom, but differed in the method they believed it should be done.
No vote more reflected that than the September board meeting during which members elected by a 4-3 vote to approve a plan that would open elementary schools throughout the county five days a week starting in October.
With the announcement by Gov. Roy Cooper that grades K-5 were free to return in October to a five-day-per-week schedule, Randolph cleared the way for its schools to get back on campus. Board members Matthew Lambeth, Todd Cutler, Biggs and Farlow voted in favor of the measure. Cook, Fred Burgess and Boyles voted against it.
Despite the disagreements, Cook and Biggs both reiterated their desire to get it right.
“It has been a trying time, and there has been discord and discussions,” Biggs said. “Gary and I have had some discord and discussions, but we want to do what’s best, and I think everyone here does.”
Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.