Ingle begins new era of his public service on school board

Dan Ingle – former police chief, county commissioner, state representative – will take on next assignment: Alamance-Burlington school board

At 70, Dan Ingle – a former two-term state representative, Alamance County commissioner, and Alamance Community College trustee – is hoping to parlay his past leadership experience into his newest role as a member of the Alamance-Burlington school board.

No one in Alamance County in recent memory appears to have served on more elective boards or in appointed posts than Ingle.

“We’ve got a serious problem here with the teacher shortage.” – Newly-installed ABSS school board member Dan Ingle

A former police chief for the town of Elon, Ingle was appointed to replace Republican Cary Allred in the state house before winning a two-year term in 2010. He also served on the county’s board of commissioners from 2004 until 2009 and again from 2014 until his resignation in 2016, when health concerns prompted him to simultaneously resign from ACC’s board and three dozen other boards to which he had been appointed during the period.

Despite his six-year hiatus from elective office, Ingle has remained on the sidelines, most recently serving as an assistant volunteer coach for a girls’ basketball and girls’ travel softball teams. “As a grandparent, they asked me to help,” Ingle says of his volunteer coaching duties, which he estimates currently take up about five afternoons a week during basketball season.

Ingle also served on the county’s board of elections until earlier this year, when – in keeping with a statutory prohibition against elections board members holding elective office – he resigned so he could enter the school board race. He also continues to serve on the board for the North Central Alamance Fire Department and the board for the Alamance Farmers Mutual Insurance Company.

Born in Greensboro and raised in Whitsett, Ingle attended Gibsonville schools from elementary through high school before going to work for the Burlington police department when he was 20, where he later worked in the criminal investigation division before becoming the police chief for the town of Elon.

He later enrolled as a non-traditional student at then-Elon College, where he earned a degree in political science. “I went back to college in 1992, at age 40, and graduated in 1998,” Ingle recalls.

Ingle says he grew up wanting to become a coach and had started out in college, years earlier, planning to major in P.E. and coaching little basketball; Babe Ruth baseball; and girls’ midget softball and basketball. “I would play softball four nights a week and baseball on Saturdays with my [dad, who coached men’s sports].” Ingle estimates he’s spent more than half of his adult life coaching – and has no apparent plan to step away from it anytime soon.

One thing he says he hopes to stay away from is the current trend toward politicization in education – i.e., the adoption of policies and curricula that are skewed toward a given ideology.

“There are so many things in public education that are going on,” says Ingle. “We got through the Bush years and No Child Left Behind. Now, [the state Department of Public Instruction is responsible for the curriculum. Let’s stick to the basics in education and make sure we’re meeting the needs of kids. I think the schools here, from what I’ve seen – they’re doing a pretty good job.”

Nonetheless, Ingle acknowledges that there are some disparities between ABSS schools he hopes to address during his four-year term on the board.

“Turrentine and Graham Middle School this past year didn’t have enough kids to have teams” for some sports and wound up having to combine their students to make a team, Ingle says.

“They’re not getting the skill set they need at an early age,” he says, adding that he hopes to find out why that’s happening and what can be done to fix it.

For an example, Ingle recalls seeing, firsthand, a young female softball player take her first turn at bat. “She was holding the bat and facing the umpire and catcher,” he explains.

“I think athletics are important for kids,” Ingle explains, adding that it’s his understanding that athletic scholarships account for roughly 2.5 percent of all college scholarships awarded nationwide. In addition to offering a pathway to college for students who might not otherwise enroll, Ingle says sports and other extracurricular activities help to instill structure and self-discipline in students.

“Before I ever thought about running [for school board], I talked with coaches and administrators,” Ingle recalls. “One thing they said is there’s a lack of structure in some of these [high-poverty] schools.”

Ingle is also hoping to come up with ways to fill teaching vacancies in ABSS schools. “We’ve got a serious problem here with the teacher shortage,” he says.

One of the priorities near the top of Ingle’s growing to-do list to discuss with the county’s legislative delegation the potential for lifting a cap on the number of hours per week that substitutes – whose numbers include many retired ABSS teachers – can work, currently limited to 29½ hours a week.

“When I was campaigning, I talked with half a dozen retired teachers,” Ingle says. “[Many] said they would work 40 hours a week if they could.”

“It needs to be researched,” Ingle concedes. “With Covid, seeing these kids and what they went through, and how it affected them academically and socially – whatever I can do, to get them back to where they need to be, I’m going to do.”

“I’ve always taken time to listen,” Ingle says, likening his past successes in law enforcement and politics to type of customer service. “There’s more to policing than riding up and down the road, writing speeding tickets. It’s about getting out of your car and building relationships.”

In addition to his volunteer activities, Ingle and his wife of 43 years, Debbie Ingle, have four daughters, 10 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren and are active at their church, First Baptist Church of Whitsett; he is also an avid gardener and hunter. Two of the couple’s daughters, Candace and Amanda, are ABSS elementary school teachers, as is a son-in-law.

With 33,897 votes (or 24.99 percent), Ingle was the top vote-getter among six candidates for three open seats on the school board in the November 8 general election.

Ingle was sworn into office last week, along with the two other new school board members, Dr. Charles Parker and Chuck Marsh, who were also elected November 8 and sworn into office last week. Their terms are four years.