As decision nears, Beaufort County school board's choice for chair still not clear

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As decision nears, Beaufort County school board's choice for chair still not clear

By RACHEL HEATON
rheaton@beaufortgazette.com
Published Monday, December 31, 2012   |  538 Words  |  

Though the decision will be made Wednesday, Beaufort County Board of Education members say there's no consensus on who will be the new chairman, vice chairman or secretary.

"It's very fluid," said board member JoAnn Orischak. "It seems to change by the hour. There are a lot of conversations going on."

The school board is expected to choose officers at its Wednesday meeting, at which new and re-elected board members will be sworn in. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in County Council chambers in the county administration building at 100 Ribaut Road in Beaufort.

The lack of consensus is due in part to the number of new board members -- seven of the 11 members have never served before. Though they've met for orientations, occasional meals or one-on-one, they are unfamiliar with each other's strengths and weaknesses.

"When the majority of the board is brand new, I think that's kind of part of the issue. How well do you know each other?" incumbent Bill Evans said.

Both Mike Sanz and Orischak said they are certain about one thing: They will vote for new members of the board to fill not only the chairman slot, but also vice chairman and secretary. Both said they have heard from their Hilton Head Island constituents that a change in leadership is needed.

"That was a very clear message from my constituents," Orischak said. "I'm not going to let them down, but I'm still hammering out the details."

Four board members have said they'd be interested in serving as chair: Evans, and newly elected members Sanz, Paul Roth and Jim Beckert.

Sanz said he sent a short email describing his philosophy on education to his fellow board members and district administrators. The email included 25 bullet points, such as, "I don't sweep things under the carpet. I pull out the carpet and invite in lots of guests." And, "District administrators must embrace strong personalities, talent and skill."

"I just said, 'Here's where I stand, and this is what you're going to get from me in terms of working with you.' "

To his knowledge, no other board members did anything similar.

Roth said he decided to try for the chairman position after putting more thought into issues the school district faces, including overcrowded Bluffton schools and continuing lean budgets. Because of his experience on other boards, Roth says he can work effectively with a new superintendent to solve those problems.

Attempts Monday to reach board members Evva Anderson, Jim Beckert, Laura Bush, Earl Campbell, Mary Cordray, Geri Kinton and Michael Rivers were unsuccessful.

Most of the contenders said they're not sure what will happen Wednesday.

"I guess we'll find out Wednesday at 6 p.m.," Sanz said.

Related content

  1. Sanz 'interested' in Beaufort County school board chairmanship; Nov. 14, 2012
  2. Beaufort County school board members mull possibilities for new chair; Nov. 12, 2012