School Board Opposes Voucher Program

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The Cannon County Board of Education voted on three different Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA) Resolutions during its monthly meeting Thursday.

The Board considered a voucher program, appointed superintendent and academic calendar as part of proposed state-wide legislation.

"These are support resoluations that will be sent to Lee Harrell (TSBA Director of Government Relations)," Director of Schools Barbara Parker told the board members. "TSBA has a position that each system is to approve them or if you don't approve them I don't send them. This is data to see how many of the systems are wanting this legislation or not."

Chairman Randy Gannon told the Board it was voting on what legislation the Cannon County Board of Education supports. The information would be gathered from school boards statewide and taken into consideration for the TSBA vote.

The Cannon County Board of Education unanimously voted against a voucher program that would divert money intended for public education to private schools.

TSBA advocates that funds raised by general taxation for educational purposes should be administered by public officials and should not be used to support privately operated schools through tuition tax credits, vouchers or block grants.

The Board also considered a resolution in favor of appointing superintendents as opposed to holding elections for that position. Board member Shannon Davenport told fellow members the TSBA is not in favor of going back to elections for these positions.  TSBA supports the appointment of the director of schools by the board of education and opposes any measure to revert to the process of electing superintendents.

"The reason they are for (appointed positions) is they think it takes the political sense out of it," Davenport said.

Board member Mike Mayfield said he believed elections were the way to go. Only three states - Alabama, Florida and Mississipppi - hold elections for the position of school superintendent/director.

Board member Blackburn made the motion supporting an appointment of the director of schools and Board member Cathy Hyatt seconded. The motion carried 3-2 with Gannon and Mayfield opposing.

The TSBA also opposed legislation that would allow the state to set the school calendar.

According to Parker, support of this legislation would include setting a state-wide start date for all schools.

"Everyone would start school the same day, state-wide," Parker said. "That date would be the fourth Monday of August."

Though local systems would have an opportunity to set break dates and other dates on the school calendar, establishing a uniform start date would handcuff educators as there are only so many days to get in the 180 days required.

Cannon County board members unanimously supported the TSBA's opposition to legislation that would allow the state to set the school calendar.

The Board also unanimously voted to host the Fall District Meeting, Sept. 6. Parker told the members Cannon County is in the rotation and it was its turn to host. The event draws up to 150 annually.

"I think it would be an honor for our system to have something like this," Hyatt said. "I think if you have an opportunity to showcase your system, you should do it."

Parker also discussed the TSCPP System Improvement Plan, which was changed from a 3-year plan to a 1-year plan. It shows the system's greatest areas of progress and challenges. Systems are required to develop benchmarks and goals for reaching them. These goals are based on AYP and Race To The Top.

The Board also approved the consent agenda, which consisted of approving a resolution to add the Arts Center Ticket Subsidy to the Budget, as well as approving a copier lease for Woodland School and approving Ricky Mullins as an assistant basketball coach at East Side.

The next regular meeting of the Cannon County Board of Education will be at the Cannon County Courthouse, Feb. 9, at 6 p.m. The Board Meeting Workshop will be at the Central Office, Feb. 7, at 6 p.m.

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Members Opinions:
January 13, 2012 at 4:18pm
Agree with their votes on everything but the appointing of a school director. That should be elected by the citizens of the county. The reason being, as I see it, a director gets in there and has big buddies in the Board of Education and they end up with a permanent position whether or not they know how to run a school properly. Especially, it seems if you are in this county.
January 13, 2012 at 5:48pm
Appointed, from a list of candidates screened by a search firm.
January 18, 2012 at 7:08pm
I totatlly agree, we should be able to vote the person into the school directors position. Not just for the "buddy system", just to be able to replace them with in a term if they are not doing their job to the best of their ability.
January 20, 2012 at 7:55am
we did elect of director for many years and it didnt work much better. A "politician" doesnt always make a good director.

I believe the system has to spend to much of it efforts satifying state, federal and local issues instead of concentrating on the education of our children.

I dont know what the answer is, but electing the director wont help much if any
January 20, 2012 at 8:01am
I do not believe the majority of the electorate is qualified to determine whether a candidate for the position, either elected or appointed, has the qualifications to be a good superintendent. That is why I advocate a search firm and then an appointment by the school board from the candidates recommended.
January 20, 2012 at 7:33pm
I am kind of torn on this one as well. Simply because it tends to be very political within the school board when choosing a director and not so much objective in my opinion.

It can be biased toward a home town favorite or it can be biased against a home town favorite. Either way can be detrimental to the long term outcome.

If I remember correctly when Dr. Deiden was approved we had school board members flying to different parts of the country doing interviews and not a search firm.

You are right Kevin that a lot of people are not qualified to determine a good candidate from a bad one based on a voting system for school director.

However, those same people vote for the members of the school board who are directly responsible for picking a director.

So really, there is not much difference between the two because if you are not qualified to pick the director in an at large vote then how could you be qualified to pick the school board member who has that authority?
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