Board of Education to meet on Election Day

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Board of Education to meet on Election Day

By RACHEL HEATON
rheaton@beaufortgazette.com
Published Sunday, November 4, 2012   |  640 Words  |  

Tuesday's Beaufort County Board of Education meeting probably will be a quick one, but a few members think it shouldn't be held at all.

Chairman Fred Washington Jr. hopes to wrap the Election Day meeting up by 7 p.m. -- 7:30 at the latest -- just an hour and a half after the public meeting starts. That way, board members -- four are on the ballot, though Earl Campbell and Laura Bush are running unopposed -- can watch election results.

The board considered moving the meeting to another day, but ultimately business has to get done, Washington said.

"We've met on holidays before," he said, referring to a board meeting held on Memorial Day, though he couldn't recall the year.

The school board meets on the first and third Tuesday of every month. That means meetings will fall on Election Day as long as the board sticks to that schedule.

"If there are things that have to get done, you do it," Washington said, adding that the board has a two-day work session to prepare for and only one meeting in December, so business can't easily be pushed down the line.

A few board members disagree, saying the meeting should have been moved.

"It's Election Day. Every government office is closed. School is closed," board member Julie Bell said. "If we have a board meeting, all the (district's) senior staff have to be there, and I don't think that's fair."

Board member Michael Rivers, who is facing Washington and challenger Bernie Schein in the race for the District 3 seat, also would have preferred the meeting be moved.

"It's the general election. It doesn't come around but every four years," Rivers said. "I think the general election day in America should be taken more seriously."

Other governmental bodies in Beaufort County have moved meetings scheduled for Election Day. Hilton Head Island's Town Council typically follows the same meeting schedule as the school board, but assistant town manager Greg DeLoach said Tuesday's meeting has been moved to Wednesday, as it usually is in election years. DeLoach also said meetings are traditionally moved to ensure nothing stops council members from voting themselves.

Hilton Head Public Service District's Planning and Operations Committee and a two Bluffton committees are scheduled to meet Tuesday morning.

Washington and Rivers said they won't be distracted at the meeting despite the fact that their futures on the board are uncertain.

"The reality is the results are going to be what they are," Washington said. "My worrying about it is not going to change it."

An attempt Friday to reach board member Ron Speaks, who is facing Geri Kinton in the District 5 race, was unsuccessful.

Washington said the board will discuss a contract issue during its executive session that begins at 4 p.m. He said the issue needs attention sooner rather than later.

The board also will review a proposed calendar for the 2013-14 school year. Washington said he wanted to get it out early to give parents time to weigh in before the board discusses the calendar at length during its Nov. 16 and 17 work sessions.

The rest of the meeting will involve housekeeping chores: an update on the district's hiring of minority-owned businesses and minority contractors that is required every year, among other yearly reviews.

"As a body, I just want us to show that we are focused on doing what we're elected to do," Washington said.

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