Board Preps for Review

Debate Over Minutes Drags On

WINNSBORO – After a shaky start to their March 18 meeting, the Fairfield County School Board approved funding for a pair of student field trips, cut ties with a software company and took their first steps at preparing for an external, voluntary accreditation review.

The meeting stumbled out of the gate, however, as Board members could not come to a consensus over approval of minutes from last month’s meeting. At issue were comments made by Board member Paula Hartman (District 2) that were ruled out of order by Board Chairwoman Beth Reid (District 7) and were therefore not included in the minutes. Hartman insisted that her comments be included in the minutes for the record, but Reid was adamant.

“You were ruled out of order prior to it going on the record,” Reid said.

“How come other things other Board members say gets on the record and I can’t?” Hartman asked.

“I don’t know,” Reid said. “You were ruled out of order prior to it going on the record.”

“No I did not,” Hartman said.

“It’s time to call for the question,” Reid said. “This is the minutes. This is ridiculous.”

But Board member Annie McDaniel (District 4) said if Hartman was requesting a statement be included for the record, the Board should accommodate her. McDaniel then moved to approve the minutes with the inclusion of Hartman’s statement. Hartman seconded the motion, which failed to carry 2-4 (District 1 Board member Andrea Harrison was absent). A motion to approve the minutes without corrections carried 4-2, with Hartman and McDaniel voting against.

“And I want it stated for the record that if we are going to work together as a board we need to make sure we are following rules and we’re following orders appropriately,” McDaniel added after the vote, “and that it is not the Chair’s discretion to call people out of order unless they are really out of order.”

Board member Henry Miller (District 3), however, pointed out that it was indeed the Chairwoman’s discretion on when to lower the gavel and call another member out of order.

After spending nearly half an hour approving the minutes, the Board finally got down to business.

A recommendation from Superintendent J.R. Green to use June 3 and 4 as makeup days for classes missed because of winter storms and to use June 5 as a teacher workday was tabled after McDaniel noted it was not listed as an action item on the agenda.

The Board also approved $14,200.50 to help fund a trip to Orlando, Fla. by the Fairfield Central Robotics Team to compete in a regional competition. In their first season in competition, the Robotics Team recently placed 14th in the state competition in Myrtle Beach. The team will travel to Orlando April 3-5 for the event. The motion to help fund the trip passed 6-0.

The Board also OK’d up to $20,000 to help fund a trip to Puerto Rico by students at Gordon Odyssey Academy on a 6-0 vote, and voted 6-0 to end the District’s relationship with Thinkgate, which Dr. Claudia Edwards said had proven “unreliable as an assessment delivery tool.”

Accreditation

Edwards previewed for the Board the process of self-examination that will be part of the upcoming review of the District by AdvancED (AE), a voluntary accreditation system. AE visits districts in their system every five years, Edwards said, and a review team would be arriving in Fairfield County in December. Step one, she said, was the completion of surveys by stakeholders, including members of the Board. McDaniel, however, appeared reluctant to participate.

“I don’t want to go through this so we can have another stamp,” McDaniel said. “For folks who don’t know, AdvancED is SACS. It’s just another name for SACS and I’ve already been through what they can do. So if we’re not going to use this to help make the district better, then I don’t want to go through with it. I want to be able to answer the questions in such a manner that whoever is reviewing us will come in and help us get where we need to be.”

McDaniel is one of two remaining Board members (Miller being the second) who served when the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) attempted to visit and review the District back in 2009. At that time, the SACS review team was barred by the Board from interviewing administration, staff and stakeholders and received a scathing review from the team. The stonewalling tactic very nearly cost the District its SACS accreditation at the time.

Policy Review

The District voted 4-2 to enter into a contract with the S.C. School Boards Association (SBA) to review the District’s policies, at a cost of $1,200 to the District. The review will center mainly on Section B of the Board’s Policy Manual, dealing with school board governance and operations. McDaniel said she would like other policies reviewed, including how class salutatorian and valedictorian are selected, the Board’s travel policy and the policy governing gratis use of District facilities. While Reid said that any Board member who had suggestions for policy reviews could submit them by email, she told The Voice this week that the selection of salutatorian and valedictorian were governed by state standards.

“So what is there to discuss?” Reid pondered.

McDaniel and Hartman voted against the contract.

Comments

  1. Wanda Carnes says

    So the Fairfield County School Board Chairwoman can lower the gavel and call a School Board member “out of order”, but County Council Chairman cannot call a County Councilman “out of order”? Looks like our Chairwoman Beth Reid can control her chambers, why can’t County Council Chairman David Ferguson?

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