Changes for School Board Task Force? - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

01/04/05

Changes for School Board Task Force?

Four members of the Savannah-Chatham school board were sworn in today at the Whitney Administrative Complex on Laura Street in Savannah. The New Year is also bringing some new twists in the issues facing the school board.

Tomorrow, when this new school board meets, they will decide on what to do with an advisory task force created last month. This task force is the subject of a court injunction. Some say the board wants to sever ties. Critics say it's a facade aimed at skirting the law.

Ten people were picked to work with the Savannah-Chatham school board on SACS compliance. They were asked to help by the board. Now, with a lawsuit looming, the task force looks to be in danger of an expulsion of sorts.

School officials won't say for sure. "It's an idea, it's on the agenda, and the board will talk about it tomorrow," James Harvey, communications director for the school district.

"I don't think it's disbanding," said former school board president Ann Crowder, who sits on the task force. "I think they are disassociating themselves from the board so we can be independent."

She says independence is key. "It's not an issue of open meetings or closed meetings. It's the matter of independence that matters to us."

For critics of the board and the task force, private meetings are the issue.

"When they violate those laws, it's incumbent on the public to react," said Rev. Leonard Small of the Unity Political Action Committee, one of the groups leading the recall effort.

Unity and Chatham Political Action Committee filed an injunction last week against the task force, because of private meetings.

Small thinks the board of education's idea to dissolve the task force is shady. "We are not blocking the board from functioning, we are just blocking them from functioning privately or in secret," he said.

The task force idea was considered a step in the right direction by SACS SEO Dr. Mark Algart. Crowder hopes the task force does not get put on the shelf. "Not for political, not for anything. It's just to get the community back to where it used to be," she said.

The new school board will meet and discuss the future of the task force at 1:30pm tomorrow.

Two new faces, Gloria Edwards and Greg Sapp, will join the board officially at their first meeting of 2005.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

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