Women take Richmond school leadership roles

Monday, Jan. 7, 2013 2:47 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 2:24 AM
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Venus Cain and Helen Minchew weren’t intending to make history by becoming the first women to hold simultaneously the seats of president and vice president on the Richmond County Board of Education.

Now that they have, they’re preparing for big changes to come.

“It’s sort of exciting,” Minchew said. “It’s the year of the women.”

Minchew and Cain said their main priorities for the rest of the school year will be dealing with the budget, student achievement and school safety. They plan to meet soon to discuss the direction of the board and inspire more communication among board members and with the community.

Cain, who served as vice president last year, was elected president during the board’s reorganizational meeting Saturday, by a vote of 8-1. Board member Barbara Pulliam was absent, and Patsy Scott cast the dissenting vote. Minchew received all nine votes for vice president.

As president, Cain will lead meetings, set the agendas and represent the board at events and official matters. Both will see an increase in pay; board members receive $6,800 a year, the vice president receives $7,400 and the president is paid $8,000.

Cain said she would like the board to look at ways to restore the roughly four furlough days planned for the rest of this school year, although the slash in state funding and budget demands may prevent that.

“When your teachers are out like they are, how are you supposed to work on student achievement?” Cain said. “It’s a two-edged sword. They want us to be competitive, but we’re not.”

Minchew said a discussion about school safety will likely be added to the agenda for the Jan. 15 meeting, which will focus on how to monitor access to the schools.

After the mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school in December, board member Barbara Pulliam said she was concerned about how easy it is for visitors to bypass the main office and wander the campuses.

Again, Minchew said board members will have to determine what changes can be made within the confines of the budget.

Cain said through all the issues, her goal is for school officials to work together to continue the success of the district. It also helps that two women have the chance to take the lead.

“It’s exciting and we are looking forward to the challenge, but I’m still Venus,” she said. “I’m just an ordinary person that goes to work everyday that tries to make the community a better place.”

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willie7 01/07/13 - 05:34 pm
Congratulations to both women

Congratulations to both women and I wish them well in their leadership roles.

augusta817 01/07/13 - 06:00 pm
Congrats to Both

It will be interesting to see if women run an organization better than men do. Who knows, maybe we'll get more gender equity on the Commission and maybe they will be able to become more collaborative.

Are there term limits for the B of E? Just asking.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 01/07/13 - 08:26 pm

From the story:

[School] board member Barbara Pulliam said she was concerned about how easy it is for visitors to bypass the main office and wander the campuses.

Exactly. I had the occasion to enter two high schools in Columbia County in November. You just drive to the parking lot, park your car wherever you can find a spot, walk in the front door, and then the whole place is wide open to you. You can wander the halls, make a bee line to any place you want, and not have to speak to a soul if you don't want.

What they could do is have hardened entrances, i.e., a "lock" of some sort that when you go in, you are trapped in a cell big enough only for one. Then someone in the office gets your story and decides whether to buzz you in. All outside entrances but the main one would be locked from the outside, but able to be crashed from the inside if there is an emergency inside.

rebellious 01/08/13 - 12:08 am
First this, First that

when will we, as a society, stop with this first woman, first black, first black woman, first double amputee, first gay, first transexual, etc... way of chalking up victories when we have all said that promotion and position should be based on merit!

Don't get me wrong, I know both ladies and they will do just fine. But if they as a pair achieve more or better results, does it have to be because they are women? Maybe they are better organized, or smarter or just got lucky.

Why must every event like this be lauded as some societal milestone, supposedly crashing through some sort of imagined oppression or otherwise social injustice. Crap it all, just give it a break, willya! Both of these people (who happen to use the ladies restroom) are competent, knowledgeable, accomplished, and will perform well in this capacity

And more gender equity, what the flip does that mean? Gender equity? Gender Equality, maybe. Sweat Equity,? I don't know...

And is collaboration really a word? If so, how is it different from corroboration? Or cooperation. And why would people be more collaborative because of their gender equity? Semantics or nuance, I don't know.

I believe I heard that Barbara Pulliam has served 17 years on the School Board so maybe the term limit is 20 years since she just got re-elected.

That felt GOOD!

rebellious 01/08/13 - 12:12 am

I agree with you. Security? Fuggaboutit!

I, too, have walked right up in schools, even waved through classroom doors at kids I know from my church.

I don't have the answer, but yet for the grace of God, we could easily be Newtown.

Of course, I don't know if you can be 100% prepared or protected from a nutcase.

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