A special School Board meeting lived-up to its advance billing at the J.R.E. Lee educational complex Monday evening. It was to be the final meeting for defeated Superintendent of Schools Charles Blalock and was expected to be lively - and possibly contentious.
Three major items were listed on the agenda: 1) Salaries. 2) Surplus auction. 3) Personnel.
The ousted superintendent and the over-whelming anti-forces in attendance split a pair of victories. Each batted 500 with 4-1 approval for salaries, and a 4-1 table on personnel. Salaries went the way of the superintendent - 2 percent approval plus step, for non-unit employees - retroactive to July 1. To the delight and cheers of the crowd however, personnel issues put forth by the out-going superintendent were put on hold - the issue was tabled for further consideration.
Newly elected Superintendent of Schools Harry Pennington will be sworn-in and take office November 16. He will put his personal stamp on that first major issue (personnel) afterwards and set the complexion of things to come within the system for his administration.
At times the proceedings of the night were not audible above the din of the air conditioning unit in the meeting room. It added to the frustration of the evening. Couple the noise, the 'talking-over' from everyone, a room full, a floor full, a wall full, a door-way and hall full of enthusiastic residents and voters, the meeting was spirited, but hardly contentious.
The salary vote went Lynn Roberson, Billy Simon, Martha Butler and Larry Carver - for! Board member Don Fenneman requested more time to review the matter - it was hastily presented to the Board - and dissented.
The four to one tally on personnel, saw Simon eager to immediately further the superintendent's recommendations, and voted - Yes! Fenneman, Butler, Carver and Roberson saw it differently and opted for more input and review, hence Table!
The night ended with a light-hearted, yet serious challenge, from the chair to the people in attendance, that they might consider continued interest and attendance (at board meetings) in the future.
A reverse light-hearted, yet serious challenge, was immediately forthcoming from the audience - that the Board might consider spending more time in the schools, in the classrooms, in the halls, in the cafeteria and learn a little more about the system first-hand.
A footprint for things to come was set Monday night at the J.R.E. Lee educational complex in Jasper, during a special Hamilton County School Baord meeting.