MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A seat was noticeably empty Thursday as the Alabama State School Board’s meeting got underway. It was the first meeting since Ella Bell, a longtime member, died on Nov. 3.
While Bell’s seat was empty, she wasn’t far from the thoughts of those in attendance. A bouquet of red roses marked the spot she filled alongside her colleagues.
Bell, who served on the board since 2001, died unexpectedly at the beginning of the month.
“Mrs. Bell, she brought a perspective to education in Alabama that we all needed and there was no doubt where she stood,” said Jeffrey Newman, the board’s vice president. "She was an advocate of children all over the state of Alabama. But she is a real strong advocate of the, you know, the rural systems in the state of Alabama.
Bell received her bachelor’s degree from Tuskegee University and her masters from Alabama State University. She completed coursework toward her doctorate at the University of Alabama. She previously served as the Director of the Dropout Prevention Center at ASU.
Gov. Kay Ivey will have to appoint someone to fill the vacant seat. That person will then have to be confirmed by the Alabama Senate. No timetable has been set.