Haywood County schools: Francis to keep school board chairman seat

Chuck Francis will again return to chair a Haywood County School Board that has set high marks for achievement, climbing into the top 10 percent of all districts in the state.

“I’m humbled, first of all, for the support that I got, and also cognizant of the fact that there are several thousand people who are not on board with what has been happening,” Francis said. “I want to listen to what people have to say, and want to be very open with everyone about all the decisions we make.”

Moving forward, Francis would like to continue that progress.

“I think that we need to work with everybody and listen to all sides of the story, making sure we build a consensus towards the ultimate goal of student success,” he said. 

Francis also stressed the need for continuing to be honest with the public — a quality he showcased when he reversed his decision to stop taping school board meetings after public outcry; Francis quickly and publicly admitted he had made a mistake before changing course. 

“I don’t take it for granted — but I also know I’ve been open and honest with all citizens of Haywood County. I understand it’s not our money, it’s their money we’re spending and we want to do it wisely and efficiently and we want to listen to all citizens.”

Upstart Republican Craig Messer put on a decent showing in his first outing, and should be considered a future asset for the local GOP. 

“I think Craig is to be commended for putting his name on his line,” Francis said, adding that he called Messer earlier in the day and congratulated him on running a clean campaign.

Clark, Smith earn Beaverdam seats on school board

Ronnie Clark and Scott Smith both work for Evergreen Paper in Canton, but soon they’ll be working together on the Haywood County School Board, too. 

Clark, who said he’d spend election night working, was unavailable for comment about his victory, but he brings degrees in business administration and organizational management to the board. 

Smith, 26, doesn’t have children of his own, but said he thinks that will help him act as an instrument of change, since it wasn’t that long ago that he was a student himself. 

Barrett, Francis III take Waynesville seats on school board

The two school board seats available in the Waynesville district will go to veteran board member Jim Harley Francis III and Ann Barrett. 

Francis, 45, comes from a family of educators and has served for six years. He has two children in the public school system. 

Barrett, 66, had one mentally challenged son go through the Haywood school system, and sees herself as an advocate for children with special needs. She returns to the board after a four-year absence; she served from 2008 to 2012, but failed in her reelection bid that year. 


Haywood County Board of Education 

Chairman (Vote For 1)

Chuck Francis 15,953

Craig S. Messer 10,298

Beaverdam District (Vote For 2)

Ronnie D. Clark 16,415

Scott Smith 12,181

Richard Lance 11,674

Waynesville District (Vote For 2)

James (Jim) Harley Francis III 12,347

Ann Barrett 9,508

Pam Martin 8,958

Kay Miller 8,428

Rebecca Benhart 6,758

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