0

Clayton BOE fills remaining seats
Nine-member body aims to function as one

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Four people will join the Clayton County Board of Education on Monday, ending a 10-month period of membership shifts set against the backdrop of an ongoing accreditation crisis.

For most of 2008, the school board was awash in turnovers as board members resigned, or were forcibly removed from office by their colleagues, or Gov. Sonny Perdue.

The turnovers began on March 3, when Norreese Haynes was booted off the educational body by his colleagues. It reached its zenith in late August when four members were ousted by Gov. Perdue. In the intervening period, four other members resigned.

So, the swearing in of board members, Pamela Adamson (District 1), Charlton Bivins (District 9), and Ophelia Burroughs (District 5), will have a deeper meaning for the school board. It will be the first time in 10 months that all nine seats on the board have been occupied at the same time, without the threat of changes. The board's membership should be set for the next two years.

"We've got a fully, fully functioning board now," said Alieka Anderson, board chairperson. "I think it's going to be great for the community to finally have all of the nine seats representing them, occupied. I know we've got some great people coming on board. This board will mean a great, and mighty future of change for Clayton County."

Throughout the frequent turnovers, the board has tried to prove it could meet all of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' (SACS) nine mandates for improvement.

The first mandate, which had to be met, was the establishment of a fully functioning school board. Anderson said she believes the groundwork was laid in recent months by many other board members, including Lindsey McDaniel and Trena Morris.

McDaniel and Morris were appointed to three-month terms, from September to December. They finished their terms on Wednesday. The board's chairperson also said the former board members helped bring a spirit of cooperation and teamwork.

"It's not whether you have seven members, or nine members," said Anderson. "The cohesiveness of the board is what matters. It's how the members work together as a team."

The filling of all nine school board seats came with only a brief hiccup last month.

Adamson and Bivins won runoffs to gain their seats on Dec. 2, 2008, and were scheduled to be sworn in on Dec. 15. There was a delay hours before the ceremony because the election of the new board members had not been certified by local election officials.

However, District 2 board member, Wanda Smith, took her oath of office in December at a private ceremony, said District Spokesman Charles White. Officially, Smith does not take office until Monday.

Swearing in new board members before they actually take office is nothing new. Former school board members, Michelle Strong, Sandra Scott and Norreese Haynes, were sworn in during December 2006, even though they did not take office until Jan. 1, 2007.

Board members, Jessie Goree and Trinia Garrett, who are beginning new, four-year terms, also were sworn in during private ceremonies last month, said White.

Board member, Mary Baker, opted to be sworn in for a new four-year term on Monday with Adamson, Bivins and Burroughs. Goree, Garrett and Baker officially will not begin their new, four-year terms until Monday.

Adamson, Bivins, Burroughs and Smith could not be reached for comment.

SideBar: Who's on Clayton's Board of Education?

With the swearing in of four new school board members on Monday, the Clayton County Board of Education's makeup should be set for the next two years. This comes after months of turnover, during which all nine people who sat on the school system's governing body at the beginning of 2008, either resigned, or were forcibly removed from office. Here is a look at the new school board, including when each member took office, and when his or her term expires:

_

Pamela Adamson

District 1

Takes office: Jan. 5, 2009

Term expires: Dec. 31, 2010

_

Wanda Smith

District 2

Takes office: Jan. 5, 2009

Term expires: Dec. 31, 2012

_

Jessie Goree

District 3

Took Office: Sept. 22, 2008

(New, 4-year term begins Jan. 5, 2009)

Term expires: Dec. 31, 2012

_

Michael King

District 4

Took Office: Aug. 25, 2008

Term expires: Dec. 31, 2010

_

Ophelia Burroughs

District 5

Takes office: Jan. 5, 2009

Term expires: Dec. 31, 2012

_

Mary Baker

District 6

Took office: Sept. 22, 2008

(New, 4-year terms begins Jan. 5, 2009)

Term expires: Dec. 31, 2012

_

Trinia Garrett

District 7

Took office: July 19, 2008

(New, 4-year term begins Jan. 5, 2009)

Term expires: Dec. 31, 2012

_

Alieka Anderson

District 8

Took office: July 19, 2008

Term expires: Dec. 31, 2010

_

Charlton Bivins

District 9

Takes office: Jan. 5, 2009

Term expires: Dec. 31, 2010