The embattled Savannah-Chatham school board took a step toward getting the district off probation today. The board spent this afternoon meeting with the CEO of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools at the Whitney Administrative Complex on Laura Street off President Street in Savannah.
SACS CEO Dr. Mark Elgart's message was simple: stop arguing about the past and start working toward the future. The told board members he wants to be their partner in helping get them back on the right track.
At today's public meeting, Elgart told board members that their actions caused probation problems. The next step: fixing the problem. He said the past is in the past, and the board needs to come to consensus when hiring a new superintendent, and members need to honor their own policies.
Elgart says regular citizens forums and a task force are steps in the right direction, but only a unified board will put the focus where it belongs, back on education.
"It is a responsibility, and they have a responsibility to follow through with our recommendations," he told us. "We're here to work with them to achieve that."
"We voted nine-oh that we're going to work with SACS," said school board president Hugh Golson. "And that was one of the most significant steps of this meeting."
The school district's accreditation is still intact even though it is on probation. There will be another review in six months to see if the district is making progress, and if so, it will most likely be taken off probation, but board members have to show signs of progress, and that was Elgart's message tonight.
Elgart did not get into detail about the exact actions that led to probation, but noted that one symptom was the fact that when the board hired Col. John O'Sullivan as superintendent, they did so by a vote of only five to four. He says the next time they hire a superintendent, there has to be consensus and that's the only way they can move forward.