By Curt Yeomans
The Clayton County Board of Education voted to stay the course with its leadership, rather than selecting a new second-in-command, during the school board's meeting on Monday.
Members voted 5-3-1 to keep Vice Chairperson Ophelia Burroughs in her position for 2010, over fellow board member Charlton Bivins. Burroughs was nominated by member Mary Baker, while Bivins was nominated by Trinia Garrett.
Those voting for Burroughs included herself, Baker, and School Board Chairperson Alieka Anderson, and members Pamela Adamson and Wanda Smith.
Those voting for Bivins included himself, Garrett, and Jessie Goree. Michael King abstained from the vote.
After she was re-elected second-in-command, Burroughs thanked her colleagues for their support and pledged to not allow a repeat of the kind of dysfunction that plagued the school board that was removed from office in 2008.
"It's been a pleasure working on the board this year," she said. "I think I have accomplished what I ran to do on the board this past year ... I will not do anything to embarrass this board, and I would never let anyone to do anything to embarrass this board again, either."
The board's vote to keep Burroughs as the vice chairperson will ensure a sense of stability, said Anderson, whose two-year term as chairperson is scheduled to end at the end of this year. Per school board policy, the vice chairperson is selected on an annual basis.
As vice chairperson, Burroughs' duties include assisting Anderson and Clayton County Public Schools Superintendent Edmond Heatley in preparing the agenda for board meetings; filling in for Anderson if she is not able to attend a board meeting, or represent the board in public; and reading announcements at the board's monthly business meetings.
"I'm very glad the board voted to keep Ophelia as the vice chairman," Anderson said. "It helps us to get a chance at stability on the board, and to continue working toward being a [Georgia School Boards Association] Board of Distinction."
Also during the meeting, Heatley told board members he will present recommendations to them at the Jan. 25 work session on ways to cut expenditures during fiscal year 2011, to adjust for shrinking revenues during a period of local and national economic hardships.
School System Budgets and Grants Director Ramona Thurman said -- by tightening spending -- the district has been able to cut a projected deficit after Fiscal Year 2012 to $36.6 million. That is down from the projected $37.3 million estimated last September.
Heatley said one action already taken is a hiring freeze that has been put in place for all non-classroom positions in the district, effective Sunday.
In other action, the school board voted 7-0-2 to approve a tribunal panel's recommendation to fire former Mundy's Mill High School Special Education Teacher Randolph Forde for allegedly making terroristic threats against a student at the school in October. Board members Garrett and King abstained from the vote.
The board also voted unanimously to approve a facilities-use agreement with the American Red Cross, and postponed, until Feb. 1, a vote on revising policies dealing with students.