McRae will go on state board if Amendment 1 fails


Belinda McRae of Hamilton, the only candidate running for District 7 on the state Board of Education, recently told the Walker County Republican Party she would take the seat on the state board - if the state defeats Amendment 1 on the March 3 primary ballot.

"If the amendment fails, I will go in," the retired educator said.

She said she taught 25 years in the K-12 system and went on to Bevill State Community College and  worked another 10 years. She teaches now at Bevill State now as an adjunct and has an art studio where she works with children in her community. 

"I will work very hard to make you proud. I understand there are people here who are probably for the amendment and people here who are against the amendment," she said. "If the amendment fails, I will work for everyone. You will probably be happier to see me at your next meeting." 

She said if she does take office, she wants to meet local people and find out how she can help improve schools. 

"I want to work very hard. That's where my heart is. I've spent the last 40 years working with children and making education better," said McRae, who is also vice chairwoman of the Marion County Republican Party and serves on the state executive committee for the GOP. 

Walker County Republican Party Chairman Linda Ensor invited McRae to explain about the amendment. 

"It's a very strange situation," she said. "You will see on your ballot, it is called Amendment 1. If that amendment passes, the state school board will be appointed by the governor, Gov. Ivey, and confirmed by the Senate." The current board will be dissolved.

"I will not stand here and tell you there haven't been problems with that board. There have been problems with that board. That is why I decided to run," McRae said. 

If she wins, she said she wants to work with Ivey and the Alabama Legislature, as well as with superintendents. 

"I want to make sure every child in Alabama has access to a good education in a safe environment. I am all for children learning trades early and being trained and have the ability to go to work. I'm all for that," she said. 

She said it was also unusual to her to have an amendment on the primary ballot. 

If the amendment fails, she said she does not want "hard feelings" and respects those who supported the amendment. 

"I have great respect for Gov. Ivey, and I especially want to be able to work with her to bring about changes," she said. "The first thing I will do is ask her what changes do you want to make and how can I help you make those, because I think she is a very good governor." 

Ivey asked voters to support the amendment during her recent State of the State address. 

The amendment was passed as SB 397 in the Legislature.  Some have been critical that  the proposal would make advances for charter schools and that voters may not realize they would no longer be able to elect a state school board. 

Supporters, such as Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed, R-Jasper, have said most states have appointed school boards. He points to a constant change in superintendents and policies and a large amount of politics and arguing associated with the board. 

The amendment will be on the local Republican and Democratic primary ballots, and is also available by itself if one only wants to vote for the amendment instead of any of the primary races.