By Curt Yeomans
With Charlton Bivins' victory over James Searcy in the Clayton County Board of Education District 9 race, there are no shake-ups expected in the near future, in the school board's nine-person lineup.
With all but the provisional ballots cast, the 45-year-old incumbent, Bivins, garnered 55.6 percent of the 813 votes cast in the election, compared to Searcy's 44.4 percent. Of the other school board members up for re-election this year, Board Chairperson Alieka Anderson faced no opposition, and members, Pamela Adamson and Michael King, won their primaries on July 20.
Bivins, Adamson, Anderson and King are all Democrats, and none of them will face Republican challengers in the November general election. Therefore, the election of Bivins ensures that the school board's current membership -- barring any unforeseen changes -- will remain in place until 2012, when the next school board elections are scheduled to take place.
"It feels good to be re-elected," Bivins said. "More than anything, it's that last piece that completes the puzzle. At least another two years with all of us together will do the district good."
In the end, according to Bivins, Clayton County Public Schools could be the largest beneficiary of the stability on the school board, that comes with his re-election.
By the time the next board of education elections come around, the school board will have gone four years without any changes. That will stand in stark contrast to the year the board had in 2008, when resignations, forced removals, special elections, and temporary appointments, resulted in 16 people serving on the school board in a 12-month span. Adamson and Bivins then joined the board in January 2009.
That changeover took place during a time of turmoil for the school system, with the school district losing its accreditation in August 2008. The accreditation was restored by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) in May 2009, but on a two-year probationary basis.
Bivins said the next step for the school board, coming out of this year's elections, is to build on board-member relationships, put the accreditation issue in the past, and work with school system leaders to improve student achievement.
"When we began working together, we were tied together by the common goal of re-gaining our accreditation," Bivins said. "We can now build some consensus that will truly be beneficial to the school system."