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Board to decide videotaping

By Trina Trice

The Clayton County Board of Education is deciding today whether or not to resume videotaping its meetings for public broadcast.

Board member Barbara Wells requested the board discuss the issue, first, as a response to public outcry and second, to honor a recommendation made in the grand jury's report given last Wednesday.

"The citizens of this county have requested" videotaping the meetings "and it is also a recommendation of the grand jury," Wells said in a letter to interim Superintendent Dr. William Chavis and Board Chairwoman Nedra Ware. "I feel that this is an important item and would like it on the agenda."

Board meetings were usually videotaped by the school system's Television Services department. Videotaping stopped, following the board's Jan. 22 meeting. At that meeting Ware expressed displeasure at then Superintendent Dan Colwell for giving copies of taped meetings to the media.

Board member Dr. Bob Livingston asked Ware at a later meeting why the videotaping stopped. Ware said she did not know.

Many residents, especially those who frequent board meetings, blamed the board for halting the tapings to keep the public in the dark. Parent Mary Baker took matters into her own hand and brought a video camera to some meetings.

In other business, the board will be voting on various construction and maintenance issues.

Renovations are set to be made on Hendrix and Mt. Zion elementary schools, said John Ramage, assistant superintendent of facilities and maintenance.

If the contract for renovations on Hendrix Elementary School is approved, the school will get an additional five classrooms as a result of the project, Ramage said.

Lee Davis, chief financial officer, is presenting the board with an overview of the fiscal year 2003-2004 which he and a committee are still preparing.

"We just received our mid-term adjustment," Davis said. "It was better than we projected. We're still having problems financially but everyone in the state is. We haven't cut the budget, we just delayed expenditures on some items. We had staff and their departments look for things that weren't essential."

Employee travel was one such item that was suspended, Davis said.

The budget for the 2002-2003 fiscal year was $303 million. To date, the school system has received $205 million in revenue, however, that amount is $81 million less than was projected by this period in the school year.

The sluggish economy and the Georgia Legislature's delay in a writing a balanced state budget is largely responsible.

Davis said a tentative calendar has been prepared for future budget meetings. Some include a budget adoption meeting on May 13, which will include public input and a final budget adoption meeting June 10. Public input will also be permitted, then, as well.