At the September 13 meeting of the Dare County Board of Education at Manteo High School, David Oaksmith was presented with the very gavel he has used as Chairman of the Board of Education. In July, after thirteen years of wielding that gavel, Oaksmith stepped down from his position as Board Chair. Stepping up to the chairman position for the 2011-2012 school year is former Vice-Chair Ben Sproul.
During Oaksmith’s thirteen years as chairman, the Board of Education achieved many outstanding accomplishments. Among the efforts for which Oaksmith served as a principal proponent was the development and implementation of a Ten-Year Facilities Plan. This ambitious undertaking featured construction and renovation projects worth $165 million dollars. This achievement was particularly remarkable, because it followed a resounding defeat of the 1998 bond referendum. Not to be deterred, the Board of Education sought alternative funding sources for the badly needed facilities. The Board’s efforts were rewarded when the Dare County Board of Commissioners approved funding through Certificates of Participation. This breakthrough led to the construction of four new schools, including an additional high school, and major renovation projects throughout the county.
Another effort spearheaded by Oaksmith was the quest to bring affordable teacher housing to Dare County. Oaksmith formed a Board committee, which studied several housing options over the years. In 2007, the Board committee learned of a teacher apartment complex which had been built in Hertford County. Using that project as a model, the Dare County Board of Education employed a collaborative approach with the Dare Education Foundation and the State Employees’ Credit Union Foundation. This effort resulted in the opening of Run Hill Ridge in August, 2008. The construction of Run Hill Ridge was a stellar achievement, but Oaksmith and the Board felt strongly that the need for affordable teacher housing was even greater on Hatteras Island. Despite the unlikelihood that the State Employees’ Credit Union Foundation would finance two projects in the same county, Oaksmith and the Board pursued the Hatteras project relentlessly. Last month, another dream became a reality when the Hatteras Island teacher housing complex was dedicated and the first tenants moved in.
The Facilities Plan and Affordable Teacher Housing are only two examples of Oaksmith’s leadership and tenacity. There are many other areas in which he served as a tireless advocate. Among the causes near and dear to his heart were:
In evaluating these noteworthy achievements, Oaksmith was always quick to point out that these accomplishments were the result of a team effort, which included all members of the Board of Education and the staff at schools and the central office. On the evening of September 13, however, the Board paid tribute to Oaksmith and his significant role in these impressive milestones.