New members Dennis Seger and Charlie Johnson, sworn into office by Probate Judge Sam Davis on Dec. 18, along with new board Vice Chair Jeff Morton, officially begin their terms on Jan. 1, but are already setting goals for the upcoming year.
Seger said he would like to see the community more involved with the schools, wants to continue to see the graduation rate increase as well as work closely with athletics and extracurricular activities.
"I want to see the community, parents and the school board all on the same page," he said.
Johnson said his recent letter to the editor summed up his goals.
"We need to get back to core values of stewardship, integrity, honesty, accountability and excellence," Johnson said.
"A lot of people want to see something different, and I want us to restore some of the trust from the parents and community that may have been lost." he said.
According to Johnson, the economy is taking its toll on the education budget, resulting in cuts from both State and Federal funds, and survival of the local education system will come from support from the business community and parent volunteerism.
"We must cultivate community and parent relationships to ensure the quality of education is maintained," he said.
"I think the Board is in the business of education, and we must come together as one team, working as one unit with the Superintendent to keep moving in a positive direction. It’s a team effort, not just individuals," Johnson said. "We need to find what’s broken and fix it."
The school system is good because there are a lot of good people, students, teachers, and administrators in the system according to Johnson.
"I’m excited about the upcoming term," he said. "It appears we’ll have a board that will work together on issues that call for a new look and fresh faces."
Morton, too, said he was excited about the New Year, being able to represent Bryan County as Vice Chair of the Board, and looks forward to working with the new members on the board.
"Each is active in the community, and I think they will be a good asset to the board and will do a great job representing Bryan County and their districts," Morton said.
Board Chairman Eddie Warren said he has already begun working with both Seger and Johnson, has attended training sessions with them, and thinks they will both be a good fit on the board.
"It seems like there is going to be a good cohesion with what we have, and a majority of us will be on the same page," Warren said.
Being on the same page will be important when discussing the education budget cuts by the government and means the board will be getting into the budget process earlier than usual, Warren said.
"Getting right into the budget will give us time to look at all the pieces of the puzzle to see where we need to shift," he said.
Warren also said some areas could use improvement, particularly communication – with the public, administration and the board themselves.
"We want to see more open communication with the public and within the board and school administration," Warren said. "I think sometimes there may be a communication gap between what the board’s duties really are and what they are believed to be."
According to Warren, the Board plans to implement public forums where people - businesses, parents and others involved in the community - can ask the Board questions and make suggestions.
"I’ve spoken to the board members and we are all ready to move forward," Warren said.