Tag Archives: Macon Telegraph

Clark Chalks One Up for Peach County Students

For more commentary on Peach County issues, please check out Out of my Mind – Peach County Edition. 

Peach County’s new Superintendent of Schools, Susan Clark, has already earned her $145,000 annual salary with her first big decision, which cleared the way for two new schools that had been delayed for more than a year by unwise Board of Education moves.

As reported by Jake Jacobs in The Macon Telegraph, the BOE voted 4-1 to accept Clark’s recommendation for a new school at the previously approved (then disapproved) site on Kay Road in Byron and a new site on University Boulevard in the Fort Valley neck of the woods.  Chairwoman Norma Givens cast the only dissenting vote.

“Disputes about where to put the schools have gone on long enough,” the Telegraph quoted Clark as saying. “It’s been more than a year, and we’re not serving the children by not building a school. They need one.” 

The cost will be somewhere between $22 million and $24 million, with the state promising to pitch in $5.1 million.  The now rescinded BOE decision to drop the Kay Road site and a 341 site had virtually kissed off about $4.9 million.  Plus, we will now have two schools under construction at the same time, whereas the previous plans begun under Chairman Bill Gresham called for the Byron area school to go up first, then the Fort Valley area school.

Clark also showed resolve, deflecting Givens’ doubts about growth in East Peach and the possibility of students spending too much time on the bus.  Clark expressed a vision of improved schools attracting growth and requiring even more schools.  As for possible trouble with bus routes, she simply said, “We’re too wise to let that happen.”

Indeed, the people who work in the school system every day have showed enough wisdom to get kudos from SACS, which chastised only the BOE.  Is the board seeking Wisdom once again?  Things look promising.

Clark showed she’s in charge; she took the rare but permitted step of calling a meeting herself.  As Jake reported, Givens claimed only the chairperson can call a meeting, but the board’s policy manual (available here) states that any three board members or the superintendent can call a meeting.

Clark can call a meeting a week if she deems it necessary, as long as she keeps winning for the students.

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The Beating Up Goes on at Peach BOE

Never a dull, and rarely a civil moment at the Peach County Board of Education.  As hinted in a previous post, BOE attorney Jerry Lumley has in fact resigned.

My colleague Jake Jacobs reported in the Macon Telegraph Sunday that Lumley ” ‘just got kind of tired of having to deal with (school board member) Jody (Usry),’ ” in addition to having too many other commitments.  Lumley also said Usry “likes controversy and ‘puts a negative spin on anything the board tries to do. I’m just tired of it.’ ” It might be true that Usry likes controversy, but there’s plenty of controversy going around, no matter who’s on the board.

Usry responded ” ‘I hope our next attorney has a better sense of his roles and responsibilities, and works for the school district rather than as a protector of individual persons, as this board looks to the future and strives to let go of the recent ugly past.’ ”

Lumley didn’t have a good word for brand new Superintendent of Schools Susan Clark, either.  ” ‘She has a high opinion of herself,’ ” Lumley told The Telegraph.

Lumley also called Citizens for Better Education ” ‘spoiled kids’ ” who throw temper tantrums if they dont’ get their way.  He lamented ” ‘a continuous lack of civility’ “on the group’s part.

CBE spokesman and County Comissioner Roy Lewis countered: “There’s plenty of frustration to go around, and it’s caused me and others many sleepless nights the past year.”

Lumley was on the ball about one thing: lack of civility, and it continues.  All the sources gave us in the Telegraph article was more tit for tat.  All parties convinced they’re right.  And to top it off, a knock on Dr. Clark just as she begins what any fair observer can see will be a difficult job.

It ain’t over til it’s over, and it ain’t over.

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The Post Daniel Era

I haven’t been able to reach School Superintendent Tommy Daniel to find out why he asked the board to buy out his contract. He said nothing newsworthy in The Telegraph, so I assume he is A) A class act who doesn’t like to bad mouth people and B) Keeping things clean for his next job.

So we’re left with the obvious question: Why would a schools superintendent leave in the middle of a school year, when the system had been showing some signs of progress under his direction? It’s hard not to speculate that the current turmoil between BOE factions and the fowl up with the new schools made working conditions unpleasant. It ain’t easy being a superintendent these days, what with No Child Left Behind breathing down your neck and limited resources. Being stuck in the middle of a feud couldn’t have made the situation happier.

What’s next? Who, given a good look at the current Montague-Capulet situation, would take the job as Peach County Superintendent of Schools? Yet someone will come forward. The money’s good and some bold soul will get it into his or her head that the challenges are stimulating, rather than daunting. All I can say to the candidates is: God be with you, and rent, don’t buy a home.

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