School Board Critics Say Superintendent Choice Doesn't Reflect Public's Wishes

There's a new superintendent, but similar problems for the Savannah-Chatham County public school board. Last Friday, the board selected a new superintendent, but not everybody is happy about it.

Contract negotiations are underway between school board president Hugh Golson and Dr. Thomas Lockamy, Jr. But community members say they were ignored when it came down to making the final choice for superintendent.

The community spoke, but retired teacher and former school board candidate Sadie Brown claims the Savannah-Chatham Board of Education did not listen.

"When you get a community response, as they received, and ignore it, that tells the community the board is not about what they want," Brown said.

The debate over whom the board should have picked as the next superintendent of schools still rages almost a week after the board made its choice.

Brown says the final decision was clouded. "Dr. Lockamy was our second choice, but was he chosen out of personal vendetta or because he could make a difference?"

"The selection of a superintendent is not a beauty pageant for the community," said Golson.

Golson says all guidelines were followed and defends the board's right to disagree with the public. "The board chooses the person they work with. The community can't pick the person the board has to work with, and that's exactly what we've done."

"In a six-to-three vote?" said Brown. "I don't think so."

Brown fears the school district will continue on what she calls a downward spiral, but will support Dr. Lockamy once he is in charge.

"In order for us to make a difference, we have to be a part of his process," she said.

Golson says once the school district and Dr. Lockamy come to an agreement on a contract, his start date and salary information will be made public. He's expecting Dr. Lockamy to be signed and ready to work by August 1.

If Dr. Lockamy turns down the job, the school board has some serious work to do and fast. But Golson says Lockamy is anxious to get started and doesn't expect any problems.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com