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New leaders for Richmond school board

New president says budget will be focus

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The Richmond County Board of Education elected new leaders at its reorganization meeting Saturday morning.

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Howard  Special

District 3 board member Alex Howard was unanimously elected president of the board, and District 9 member Venus Cain was elected vice president, eventually also by a unanimous vote.

Howard was vice president, and District 1 board member Marion Barnes ended his two-year term as president, with the Saturday meeting being the last one he led.

After the meeting, Howard and Cain spoke of the challenges they and the school district will face in the next two years, with money being the top issue.

"Our main focus is going to be our budget, considering the fact that we've been significantly cut in the last three years and it's going to continue to be that way," Howard said. "That's our primary concern. Second concern we're going to kind of look at is our transportation issues we've had. We've got a shortage of workers. We've got some, obviously, some disgruntled workers there as well, and parents are upset because their children are arriving hours late. So I think that's something we need to fix, definitely."

A third area of focus, he said, is the upcoming Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, which could be ready for a board vote this spring and for a public vote later in the year. District staff and Columbia architectural firm Hanscomb/GMK are developing the list of projects a 1-cent sales tax could fund.

The board took two votes for its vice president. Barnes nominated Cain, and District 5 member Patsy Scott nominated District 4 member Barbara Pulliam.

In the first vote, Cain received seven votes, and Pulliam received two -- from herself and Scott. District 7 member Frank Dolan was absent.

Then District 8 member Jimmy Atkins called for a revote so Cain could receive unanimous support. The board obliged. Cain said afterward that she appreciated the confidence her fellow board members placed in her.

"What I plan to do is work in conjunction with the president to make sure we still have smooth board meetings and that the will of the board is carried out," she said.

Before the end of the roughly 10-minute meeting, Barnes thanked district administrators and his fellow board members for their support during his two years as president and endorsed the board's new leaders.

"I appreciate being able to serve you in the last two years," Barnes said. "I think we accomplished a lot of things. You are the most cooperative board I believe we have had. ... We have had less friction. We didn't always agree, but we disagreed agreeably. I hope you will support these two people as well as you did me. You've got two tremendous leaders here in Ms. Cain and Mr. Howard."

Atkins, who served as board president from 2006 to 2008, passed along a wish for Howard.

"Four years ago, Mr. Barnes, when we were sitting here and you gave the gavel over to me, you said what I want to say to Mr. Howard," Atkins said. "Good look. You're gonna need it."

In other business

The school board chose to keep the dates and times of the meetings the same as they have been in the past two years.

- Committee meetings, second Tuesday, 4 p.m.

- Regular board meetings, third Tuesday, 6 p.m.

Next, the board will hold committee meetings starting at 4 p.m. Tuesday in the board room at district headquarters, 864 Broad St.

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norilyn0719 01/09/11 - 09:00 am
Venus Cain states that she

Venus Cain states that she wants the "will of the board to be carried out." What about the will of the voters who elected you board members. Oh, wait, I forgot, she and Barnes are dictactors and bullies and really don't aren't concerned about the quality education for the kids of Richmond County or the citizens who voted for them.

sallie thomas
sallie thomas 01/09/11 - 04:43 pm
You board members think that

You board members think that the problems at transportation can be solve by hiring new drivers.The problem is that your drivers ,mechanics,and monitors are leaving. The problem is so out control because you don't hear when your employees cry out to you.
Those few discruntle employees is your whole transportation department and if you don't do something soon they will feel that the only thing that they can do is stop the wheels from turning .You have been told over and over again the people that is causing the problem the adminstration. As of Friday the 7th of January your employees are even upset even more.Keep on you might just get what you asking for no one to work period. You haven't seen togetherness until now everybody out there is mad.

factfinder 01/09/11 - 08:46 pm
The only chance for any real

The only chance for any real improvement in RC system is to have an effective school board. Excellent school performance begins with excellent decision makers, not school board members who go along to get along, thereby not providing the check and balance system which assures that all decisions made are ethical and legal. Too often our board members have fail to work as a group to gain a thorough understanding of the proposals brought to them, nor to make a sincere effort to examine the problems in the systems that are presented to them. The debacle that occurred with the administration at Laney (which was commonly known by all) was addressed only after the state department intervene. To the credit of one board member (P. Scott I believe) discrepancies in the Laney grant discussion were pointed out but was totally disregarded by the majority of the board. I should hope that the board has learned from that incident and other blunders they have made in the past . I am hopeful that they have resolved to make improvements. However the election of these two leaders does not reflect any change.

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