12/23/12 — School board agrees to meet with county commissioners

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School board agrees to meet with county commissioners

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 23, 2012 1:50 AM

The Wayne County Public Schools superintendent and chairman of the Board of Education say they are not only planning to meet with the county Board of Commissioners, but that they are looking forward to forging a strong relationship.

The ongoing debate about will they or won't they meet was addressed by Eddie Radford, then-chairman of the school board, at its September meeting.

Since there were seats up for re-election on both boards, he said the consensus was to hold off until the election was over.

With that now decided, the school board has set a meeting for next month and hopes to do the same with the commission afterward.

"Our board plans to meet on Jan. 15 at 9:30 (a.m.)," Dr. Steven Taylor, schools superintendent, said recently. "The idea was our board wanted to meet first to review the (facilities) plan that's been in place since 2007. ... We would like to see if we want to keep it as it is or if it needs tweaking."

John Grantham, who took over the reins as chairman of the board this month, also said he would be happy to meet with the commissioners -- after his own board has the chance to meet.

"We're definitely planning on meeting with them," he said. "We want to have a meeting on our own first to make sure everyone is in one accord."

Between the election and the holidays, it was a challenge to schedule a convenient meeting time, but the actual concept was never in question, Grantham said.

"We had already planned on having it in January before the commissioners asked us to have one," he said.

"We said all along, once the election was over and everyone was in place," Taylor said. "Our board never said we would not meet.

"The idea was to have in place the people that were going to be at the table. Now that the election is over, we know who the players are."

The superintendent said he doesn't anticipate any major changes to the existing facilities plan, but with a reconfiguration of representatives, it's always wise to allow everyone to weigh in and be in unison before moving forward.

"We'll look at any changes from demographics, road patterns, since 2007," he explained. "We'll look at all the data that we can look at, to make sure that the plan is in line with where we should be."

Both men admitted to being a bit puzzled by the stance the county commission has taken of late, which was creating the impression that the school board waa reticent to come to the table.

Taylor said while there might have been some contention between members of the two boards in the past, the bottom line is that the commission is essential when it comes to funding facilities.

"There is no policy in place (for meeting)," he said. "It's an agreement between our two boards. We meet on a needed basis.

"Our board wants to meet with the commissioners. We're willing to meet with the commissioners. We need to hold hands as we move forward, to work in a collaborate way to move toward completion. We hope that we'll be able to have the funding to move forward on at least some of those projects that we have left."

The superintendent said he is grateful for the commission's willingness to work together and being receptive to moving on the facilities plan and other projects that require action.

"Everything on that plan is needed," he said. "We know it's going to take some time, it takes money. Whatever they do, we appreciate all their efforts to help us move that facilities plan along and complete the items that are on it."

Grantham said he has had an opportunity to speak with Steve Keen, chairman of the commission, and was pleased with the outcome.

"I made him aware of our interest in having a meeting," he said. "He seemed to be ready to work with us and get things off dead center. I was encouraged by our conversation."

Grantham said he doesn't anticipate anything standing in the way or delaying the boards from coming together.

"I was encouraged after talking with him. I think we're going to be able to work together," he said. "I have been on (the board) awhile and this is really the first time I have felt like up front we were going to be coming together with a desire to really work together."