The Pickens County School Board met May 8. With updates on attendance, finances, the Code of Conduct changes proposed and the Ombudsman agreement on the agenda, several other areas took the spotlight.Three different spotlighted areas were delineated May 6-12: National Nutritional Employees, National School Nurse and Teacher’s Appreciation weeks were declared as being observed in the Pickens County School system. The school board also recognized the Math Bowl winners from the elementary schools.
In operations, Rick Little reported for the second year in a row no buses were taken off the fleet. Also, some cost saving measures were announced by Dr. Carlton Wilson in his quest for furniture updates for Jasper Elementary School and Little further reported some changes in the state’s legislature means that less costly wooden trusses may now be used for the Tate Elementary School project when it begins.
With Mark Miller in attendance, spokesperson for the group behind “Let’s Take a Stand,” (www.letstakeastand.com) misconduct through using executive session in a manner not intended was later outlined on the website. Although the executive session, as is the norm for the current board, was one hour and four minutes long, what was mentioned to FYN was that once executive session was completed, there were personnel issues that were questionable.
There was the regular personnel action report that was approved with four retirements, one termination and 10 resignations, bringing the total number of employees exiting the system to 160 since July 2012. The vote was four ayes and one abstention with Board Member Mike Cowart voting by conference call in his absence. The abstention was from Peggy Andrews who had a family member on the list as a newly hired bus driver.
The next personnel action was the certified employee recommendations List B which included each schools recommendations for the next school year including academic coaches and the special education department. That list also garnered four votes for approval and one opposed (Byron Long).
A short list, List C saw four votes for and one abstention from Long as the only name on the list was his wife’s name to continue in the “Instructional Technology” position she held last year.
List A came next which encompassed some central office staff and principals. Again, four voted for and Long voted against the action.
The 2014-15 school year will see principal vacancies at Pickens High School and Jasper Middle School following the recent resignation of JMS Principal Neil Howell and PHS Principal Eddie McDonald’s retirement.
Long responded to FYN’s questions regarding his voting record stating,
“As most people know, we are not allowed to comment on personnel matters. But, I would like to comment on the vote in general.”
“As a board member, we are presented with recommendations from the superintendent that require a vote. As an individual board member, if we have any issues with the content of the recommendation or simply the way the recommendation is presented, our only option is to vote “no”. I really hate that some individuals in the community will try to twist my vote to fit their agenda. Anyone that knows me realizes how absurd it is to imply that my vote means that I hate teachers,”
The video of the personnel action may be seen here: