0

Adamson, Bivins take BOE seats

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Retired Clayton County educator, Pamela Adamson, has wanted to get a Clayton County Board of Education meeting packet for the last three months, but she will not have to wait much longer.

Adamson and DeKalb County Sheriff's Deputy Charlton Bivins were elected Tuesday to fill the last two open seats on the school board.

With all but the early and advanced votes counted, Adamson defeated Fulton County teacher, Cleopatra Ballantyne, with 55.2 percent of the vote in the District 1 race.

In District 9, Bivins defeated AT&T training manager, Irene Lewis, with 56.5 percent of the vote.

"I hope they start giving us those packets soon, so we can be kept up to date about what's going on, even though we have not yet been sworn in as board members," said Adamson. Bivins could not be reached for comment.

The winners of Tuesday's runoff will be sworn in on Jan. 5, along with board members-elect Wanda Smith (District 2) and Ophelia Burroughs (District 5), who won their seats on Nov. 4.

Adamson and Bivins will serve the remainder of the unfilled terms of former board members, Michelle Strong and Sandra Scott.

Strong and Scott were removed from office in August by Gov. Sonny Perdue for alleged unethical behavior and violations of the state's Open Meetings Act. There is not another school board election scheduled until 2010, when District's 1, 4, 8 and 9 are up for election.

The victories of Adamson and Bivins mean voters favored people, who either have experience with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), or have been a community leader since SACS first announced the district's accreditation was in jeopardy.

The first hints that the accreditation was in trouble came in November 2007, when SACS informed school system officials that complaints had been filed against board members. The accrediting agency revoked the accreditation this September, largely because of a dysfunctional and unethical school board.

Adamson, who was an assistant superintendent under former Clayton County Superintendent Joe Hairston, has been trained by SACS to lead review teams like the one that will return to the school system in 2009 to decide whether Clayton's accreditation should be restored.

Prior to his election, Bivins served as the chairman of the Concerned Citizens of Clayton County (C4), a community advocacy group formed by parents who were angry about the accreditation crisis.

Adamson said she is optimistic about the direction the county is headed, because a entirely new school board, district attorney and sheriff were elected this year. "I'm excited about the possibilities for this county," she said. "We've got some wonderful people coming into office."

Even though they will not be sworn in for another month, board Chairperson Alieka Anderson will ask the new board members to attend the board's retreat Dec. 12-13 in Peachtree City, so they can begin to get acclimated to their new positions.

"We'll sit down [at the retreat] and discuss what we can look forward to in the new year, and it will be an opportunity for us [sitting and incoming board members] to get to know one another," said Anderson.

Voter turnout was strong in both races, with 5,732 votes cast on Tuesday in the District 1 race, while District 9 had 4,828 votes cast, although the number of early and advance voters in each race was unknown.

Overall, Clayton County had a roughly 33.57 percent voter turnout -- including the county's nearly 12,500 early and advanced votes.