The school board is hoping a May 13 town hall meeting will help to provide them, as well as voters, with the information needed to decide whether the county ought to consider switching to an appointed, rather than an elected, superintendent.
Dr. Wayne Blanton, director of the Florida School Board Association, will address the ins and outs of going from an elected superintendent, to one appointed by the school board. He will be available answer questions from county residents at the town hall, slated for 5 p.m. at the
School board member Pam Shiver last month presented the idea to her colleagues. If a majority of the board votes to place the matter on the November ballot, either as a binding or non-binding referendum, it would then require the OK by the county commissioners to formally place the referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot.
If a majority of county voters support the measure, it would then go into effect after Superintendent Nina Marks completes her term in 2016. First elected in Nov. 2008, Marks was re-elected in 2012 without opposition.
The decision last week not to discuss the proposal dismayed some in the audience who were in attendance to speak out on the matter. “We’re going to postpone it so everybody can make an educated decision,” said Shiver.
Later in the meeting, Chairman Jimmy Gander allowed two members of the audience to address the board on the appointed superintendent proposal, but said he preferred not to have a full-blown debate.
“That discussion will take place but not tonight,” he said. “I don’t want to get into everybody’s pros and cons. I think this is an important issue. We’re going to have to go through different steps.”
Dottye Thornburg, who has been active as a volunteer coordinator with the school system, said she believes under the current system, it will be difficult to find someone with the knowledge and expertise to succeed Marks, who has indicated she does not plan to run for a third term.
“The process is intense. I’ve been beating the bushes trying to find a qualified person to step into her shoes,” said Thornburg. “We’re at a crossroads of our education program. We do not have a qualified person to step in and take her job.
“I have talked to other counties, and more often than not, they have liked their decision to go with an appointed superintendent,” she said.
In a later interview, Thornburg said she reached her conclusions after asking several people in Franklin County to consider the superintendent job. “I would not have asked them if I had thought they would not do a good job and were not qualified,” she said. “The people themselves were the ones saying they were not qualified. Some said they have been out of the education field for too long and some said they had not been in the education field for long enough.”
Earlier this month, the
According to a 2012
The board also heard briefly from Margo Posten, who works at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve, and who spoke in favor of having an appointed superintendent.
Board tables Bidwell re-hiring decision
In a series of personal decisions, the board unanimously agreed to five of six recommendations by Marks for the re-hiring of key administrators.
Auxiliary Services Director Al London, Curriculum and Vocational Education Director Nick O’Grady, Finance and Human Services Director Shannon Venable, Special Programs Director Dr. Sue Summers and K-12 Assistant Principal Kris Bray were all re-hired unanimously.
A sixth recommendation, to rehire K-12 Principal Eric Bidwell, was tabled by unanimous consent.
By unanimous consent, the board approved the hiring, for the 2013-14 school year of five coaches, and tabled three of them. All eight had been recommended by Bidwell.
Approved were Scott Collins as head softball coach, Aaron York as head baseball coach, Jonathan Creamer as assistant baseball coach, Mike Todd as middle school baseball coach and Bud Strange as weightlifting coach. Tabled were Brock Johnson as assistant softball coach, Kevin Newell as middle school softball coach and Teresa Segree as team statistician.
One personnel matter that as not heard by the board was that of the re-hiring of Lisa Sweatt as school psychologist, even though Sweatt made a personal appearance.
Sweatt presented each of the board members with a report that included her resume, her proposal for school psychological services for the 2014-15 school year, and letters of recommendation from Bidwell, Bray, ABC School Principal Chimene Johnson, a joint letter from ABC School Assistant Principal Elizabeth Kirvin and School Counselor Susan Bachrach, Franklin County School Guidance Counselor Roderick Robinson, and ABC School Dean of Students Kristy Taranto.
Sweatt’s current contract ends May 5, as per the administration’s decision, and the school board has put out a request for proposal (RFP) for the remainder of this year and the upcoming school year.
“I wanted to give my credentials,” she said. “I am 100 percent compliant with (the requirements of the) state of
School Board Attorney Barbara Sanders intervened, and asked the board not to allow Sweatt to address them since there is an existing RFP process.
“You should get them (proposals) all submitted on time,” said Sanders. “I don’t think it’s appropriate for one to address the board, in addition to the bid process. It’s inappropriate and we can be sued over it and it’s not right. When you have a bid process, there are procedures that have to be followed.”
The school board members passed the materials back to Sweatt.
Later, two students – Maddie Newell and Hunter Shiver – both addressed the board regarding Sweatt, and said she has been a positive and productive presence in their lives.
“She’s helped me in so many ways,” said Newell. “She’s been more than a friend; she’s like family to me.”
Shiver, who like Newell played softball for Sweatt, said “I feel like she’s a positive role model for anyone who needs someone.”
In other business, Pam Shiver asked the board to consider revising the policy of wearing of tights “or whatever you call them, undergarments and gym wear” to school.
“This is something we need to address,” she said. “They should be considered undergarments.”
Venable told the board in her report that the school is running a cushion of 3.02 percent of its budget, or about $525,268, She said this fund balance included $326,992 in unrestricted funds, and $198,277 in restricted funds.