Still No School Board Chair in Beaufort County - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

01/07/05

Still No School Board Chair in Beaufort County

There are a lot of new leaders in the New Year, but one Low Country school district can't quite make up its mind. It's been a bitter stalemate for the Beaufort County Board of Education. They first tried to elect a board chair on Tuesday, and then yesterday afternoon gave up again after five unsuccessful votes in a row.

Theoretically, an odd number of board members means you can't have too many ties, unless of course someone decides to abstain. Five times Thursday, the board voted for a chair. Five times, they deadlocked due to the abstention of Michael Rivers. A lot of them are getting frustrated about it.

"It's just like a jury, all right? The jury's out and we need to make a decision," said board member David Chase at yesterday's meeting. "I'm prepared to stay here as long as it takes."

But the board decided the stalemate wouldn't be broken any time yesterday and tabled the vote one more day. They hope it doesn't take any longer than that.

"I'm not happy we're going to be pushing it off," board member Richard Tritschler said. "I feel we should stay here today until something happens."

"For us to prolong it does not speak well for this board, does not speak well for the leadership of this district," said Laura Bush, one of the two nominees.

She and nominee Rick Caporale say people looking for a scapegoat shouldn't blame Michael Rivers entirely, since any one of the 11 board members can change his or her vote and break the tie.

"One of the things I often hear said about the board of education is 'Vote your conscience, vote your conscience,'" Caporale said. "I think that's exactly what Mr. Rivers is doing."

Michael Rivers says he'd prefer to have the board wait until January 25 before trying again, but the rest of the board is a little more anxious. Rivers had no comment after the meeting.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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