Originally created 11/12/06

School board faces changes



AIKEN - The state of the Aiken County Board of Education parallels the state of national politics - lots of changes will take place over the next year.

Voters elected three new faces Nov. 7. And the board will also receive a new chairman next month when longtime board member John Bradley steps down.

But the transition to a new board won't be easy for newcomers or incumbents.

"The real challenge would be how to work as a team to better the children and put ourselves behind," member-elect John Wesley Hightower said.

The three new members - Mr. Hightower, Levi Green and Ray Fleming - said they can't change the board because they have to learn from returning board members and become unified before anything can happen.

"I can't make anything happen as one person out of nine," Mr. Fleming said. "I have to become a member of a nine-person team. There needs to be a trust that builds among us."

In the next few years, the board has to address growing student enrollment, which means presenting a bond referendum to voters for money for new schools.

"I think the board will really have to sit down and look at needs," Mr. Green said. "We've got to sit down with superintendent and figure out a strategy for school year and direction that we're going in to."

Tuesday will be the first time the new members collectively meet with the public and incumbent members.

"I'm looking forward to next Tuesday to really meet the new members," member Nick Flouras said. "It's one of those interesting things about the board - you got a new chance for a fresh start. I don't know if we need radical change, though; we're on the right track. I'm not thinking we need to deviate from that path."

Reach Julia Sellers at (803) 648-1395, ext. 106, or julia.sellers@augustachronicle.com.