Belcher bowing out

Published 1:01 am Friday, January 27, 2012

School-board member Robert Belcher will not run for re-election.
Belcher, a retired public-school principal, confirmed he’ll step down after serving the remainder of his eight years on the Beaufort County Board of Education.
His current four-year term expires this year.
“I think eight years is about my limit,” he said. “I’ll let somebody else run.”
Belcher, a former chairman of the school board, had been saying for some time that he would not seek re-election.
He indicated he wants to clear the way for new candidates and new thinking.
“Fresh blood can have newer and better ideas after awhile,” he said.
Retired accountant Bill Sprenkle said he plans to launch a try for Belcher’s seat in District 7.
The district takes in the River Road and Washington Park precincts plus part of Washington’s Ward 1, said Kellie Harris Hopkins, Beaufort County’s elections director.
Sprenkle ran against Belcher in 2008, garnering 38.73 percent of the vote, or 816 votes, to the incumbent’s 61.27 percent, or 1,291 votes.
It was unclear Thursday whether any other candidates might come forward in District 7.
The filing period for North Carolina offices begins Feb. 13 and ends Feb. 29.
Also up this year are school-board seats held by members Eltha Booth, Barbara Boyd-Williams, Mac Hodges and Mike Isbell.
These seats are officially nonpartisan.
There are nine school-board districts countywide.
Belcher said he was elected school-board chairman not long after the conclusion of funding-related litigation involving his board and the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners.
“I guess I was the happiest in being able to negotiate a settlement of that lawsuit with the former chairman of the commissioners without either group having to go back to court,” Belcher said.
In July 2011, Belcher stepped down as chairman of the school board. At the time, he said his decision to resign the leadership post was influenced partly by the commissioners’ cuts to the school system’s construction budget and a lack of school-board support for renewed legal action against the county.
Belcher also helped pick Don Phipps as the replacement for departed BCS Superintendent Jeff Moss.
“I think we found a person who does a good job for the county in Dr. Phipps,” he said.
His fellow board members seem to work well together, he added.
“We have not had a lot of controversy and a lot of stress like some school systems seem to have,” Belcher said.
For his part, Sprenkle said he wanted to bring his knowledge of accounting to the table, if elected.
“Most of (the board’s) troubles have always been finance, at least that’s been the problem between them and the commissioners,” he said.
Sprenkle, 67, retired from the Marine Corps on Dec. 31, 1983.
Later, he retired from accounting.
He lives off River Road with is wife, Erika.
Sprenkle has two sons.
“I’d like to be a positive influence on the educational system,” he said.
Contributing Writer Betty Mitchell Gray contributed to this article.