By Karen Hall
Lively and sometimes argumentative discussions preceded some votes at the school board's February meeting, and the first eruption was when next year's school calendar came up for approval.
"The elementary supervisors and the Race to the Top coordinator (Suzanne Ingram) have asked for a third professional development (PD) day" to address student achievement issues, said calendar committee chairman Barbara Kennedy.
Schools director Roy Dukes agreed and, in the end, a teacher training day was added, but the calendar was approved on a split vote.
"The principals and teachers need more time to work on common core standards," Dukes said. "Yes, we need that day."
Ingram was invited to tell board members why she recommended the third PD day.
"Professional development is the keystone needed to accomplish the ambitious goals we have set for student achievement," she said. "If we don't have professional development during the year, it will fail.
"It is crucial - it is critical - we have the opportunity to train our teachers during the year, not just in the summer. Please add this third day," Ingram concluded.
Randy Perryman asked supervisor of secondary instruction Julie Thomas if the teachers' committee had discussed professional development days before approving their calendar.
"This is the calendar the teachers recommend," Thomas explained, referring to the one with two PD days. "This is the calendar I support. This is the calendar that should be approved."
"Why did we ask the teachers and poll the community if we're not going to respect what they said?" Perryman asked.
Kennedy recommended that he, and the other board members, listen to Dukes and Ingram.
"We should pay attention to the people we pay to give us advice," she said.
Harvey Jones Jr. complained, "I wish I had known two weeks ago. We're getting stuff sprung on us at the last minute. This is getting old."
The motion was to approve the 2012-2013 calendar with the addition of a third PD day on Feb. 15, 2013, and this passed by a vote of 5-4.
Voting yes were Kennedy, Curt Denton, Kristen Gold, Donnie Moses, and Sam Smith.
Jones, Perryman, Ann Tears and Mike Keny voted no.
Another lively discussion concerned selling two old school buses. Previously, they've been sold to the highest bidder, even if that price was below the scrap metal value.
This time, board members wanted to set a minimum bid that was somewhere near the scrap value.
"I recommend putting it in the $1,500 range," Curt Denton said. "Give the taxpayers a chance to buy a bus."
Kristen Gold responded, indicating she would set a higher minimum.
"As good stewards of the taxpayer's money we need to get the most we can," she said.
"Let's not get too greedy," exclaimed Denton.
Sam Smith had another idea. Set the minimum bid at $1,700. If there's no buyer, call for bids again in anticipation that the buses would be purchased by scrap metal dealers.
The motion was to declare the two buses surplus, and put them out for bid, with a $1,800 minimum price. Bids are also invited for a surplus camper top, but there is no minimum on that.
Seven board members voted in favor. Denton voted no. Tears abstained.