Monday, June 16, 2008

Call to arms

I started working on this brief post on Saturday after hearing the news of the resignation of James Simms - which, of course, is beyond disappointing - and let me second this notion made by the Athens Banner-Herald.

And that notion is that it's about time some folks put some heat on the Clarke County Board of Education. The departure of Simms can be chalked up to one thing and one thing only - shortsightedest and a sense of disconnect from the BOE. It's firmly their fault they've run off a more than qualified superintendent who was going above and beyond the call of duty in working to not only make our local schools better, but to also better integrate the goals of the schools with the goals of the local community.

It is beyond time to see some worthy challenges to so many entrenched board members who either are content with adherence to the status quo or lack the necessary vision to positively move our schools forward.

Vernon Panye and Sidney Anne Waters have each been in their position for more than a decade, with Payne holding his seat for almost 30 years. Charles Worthy and Allison Wright are finishing up their first terms, but also need challenges so this community can have a debate featuring fresh faces and new ideas on how to move forward.

And, if you want a startling contrast in engagement, consider the number of qualified candidates seeking spots on the Oconee County Board of Education. Note the the contested races in our neighboring county and remember that even if all the incumbents win out there, that community was afforded the opportunity to have a discussion about what kind of vision it desires for its school system.

It would be nice if we had that here.


Blogger paveplanet said...

I agree - if this town spent one tenth the time complaining about the BOE as it does the ACC commissioners, think about the accountability the BOE members would have to answer to.

But alias, I don't think that this community really cares about improving the schools and will continue paying over 60 percent of their taxes to a body out of step with the rest of the community.

8:26 AM  
Blogger hillary said...

I just still feel that I can't exactly make a judgment on who was right in this last case: the board or Simms. After all, I didn't feel that they were totally wrong in removing Craft, so perhaps they're not totally wrong in these other cases.

I do, of course, support as many people running for any elected office as possible, but someone being in a job for 30 years isn't reason enough to boot him or her.

8:48 AM  
Blogger Jmac said...

Something that prohibits runs for BOE is that it's still, you know, a job that requires 30-plus hours a week if you want to do it right, but it pays peanuts ... something like less than $5,000 annually.

The commission, while not exactly middle-class salaries, still are more than $16,000 annually.

I'm not exactly convinced the BOE was wrong with regard to Craft, though I've heard from a variety of people (pro- and anti-Craft) that it was handled rather poorly and resembled a mob rule kind of thing.

I'm convinced they completely did the wrong thing with Simms. They gave him no support, questioned his every move and cut his legs out from underneath largely because he proposed doing things differently.

8:53 AM  
Blogger hillary said...

So you're 100% positive that it was "because" he proposed doing things differently, as opposed to them disagreeing with the specifics of the differences? I'm not saying it was definitely one way or the other. I'm just saying that there are a number of different people on the school board, and I'm not sure they all fear all change.

9:33 AM  
Anonymous James said...

I've been all over the Board of Education regarding its budgets and spending for a long time over at TOA (not that many agree with me).

With the exception of the mayor's office, during the last election cycle the only contested spots on either the Commission of the Board of Education were the open seats (District 1 and 9 on the Commission and District 5 on the BOE). So, implied (as opposed to actual) satisfaction with incumbents is the norm.

The salary for a commissioner is $15,000/year, contrasted with a mere $3600/year for a Board of Education member.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People don't do it for the money -- there are a lot easier ways to make $15k/ $3600!

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I know of no person who has run for local office just for the money in the past 12 years, I'd be in favor of a slight increase in the stipends for all of them.

I would not ever favor paying any local official enough money to ever make it even remotely attractive to seek elected office because of the pay. And, that is especially true for the Mayor's job. I know Heidi could make more money as a waitress for the same number of hours she puts in every week.

Raising the pay for elected office just attracts people who are more interested in the money than public service.

I can't even imagine anyone wanting to serve on the Clarke County BOE in it's current condition - for any amount of money!


11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have voted in favor of many hundreds of James Simms's personnel recommendations in his short time here, voting no only once and with good reason. I support him teeth and nail, against my colleagues more often than not, and ask questions only to elucidate what needs to be known in children's/the district's best interests. Moreover, I bring much that is new (yet proven to work) to the table as well, so I'm not afraid of change and support him in that, too. So where are we now? BlogGod willin and the crick don't rise, we'll know next week. Hang in there, tighter minds will prevail.

12:32 AM  

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