The Amarillo Independent School District school board voted unanimously and without debate to appoint Robin Malone to the Board of Trustees during a special meeting of the Board of Trustees Tuesday afternoon.

"We believe, based upon our unanimous decision, that we have come to the right decision," said AISD school board member Scott Flow.

"We had four really outstanding candidates that made the final list. It was a difficult, difficult decision because, really, we wouldn't go wrong. The choice we're making is one that's in the best interest of the district and the best interest of the community," AISD school board member John Blanchard said.

"There are two things I can bring to the table," Malone said. "I believe my passion for education - I've always been a champion for students, parents, educators and community members. In addition, I can bring my education and my experience. I am a product of AISD, I went away to become an attorney ... and I brought all of those skills back to Amarillo."

Malone said critical thinking will be a vital part of how she addresses matters brought before the school board.

"My ultimate goal is to make sure that every student ... is represented, to make sure they have the resources that they need in order to be successful beyond high school," she said. "I'm (now) going to have access to a wide variety of different experiences of the community. Based on what I'm provided, I can assist in making decisions for all students in AISD."

One topic buzzing among residents in North Amarillo, that may become a concern for Malone and her fellow AISD board members, is the desire and need for a school on that side of town.

"Public education is the bedrock of any community," she said. "It's definitely something that we need to look into and we need to listen to our community members ... in earnest. We need to listen to all of the stakeholders. Based on that information, we need to come up with a plan, policies and procedures that are going to facilitate all students being successful in AISD. It's important that, if any areas are disenfranchised, we need to look at those areas and see what we can do to ensure that those students are successful as well."

Bowden Jones Jr., Claudia Stuart and Sherry Clark were the other finalists. None of them was present during the announcement.

A small group gathered in the board room of the AISD Education Support Center hoping that the seat would be supplanted by a candidate they thought best filled the void on the AISD school board.

"I think it's an excellent selection. Robin will be very good for the district as well as the community," said Floyd Anthony, president of the Amarillo NAACP. "I'm glad that the board decided to go with one of the African-American candidates to maintain diversity on the board.

"James Allen served that position for 17 years and he did an outstanding job. You have to have a connection with the community that you're from in order to know what the concerns are of those individuals in that community."

"The fact that there is no single member district in Amarillo means that it is conceivable that all school board members live in Southwest Amarillo and not know all of the different areas," said Amy Taylor, Amarillo NAACP community liaison. "I think it's very important that school board members bring an understanding to the other members about particular neighborhoods, cultures and problems. There are those who would assume there are no problems or wish they didn't know about them. If they're only visiting these neighborhoods and schools quarterly or annually, they have no idea of understanding what the problems are."

For her part, Malone said she believed race played no part in her being selected by her fellow board members.

"I don't believe that was a factor. I believe my training and experience is what secured this position for me," she said. "I've always said, I'm a black female. I can bring that to the table but I can bring so much more to the table."