On Tuesday, April 12, 2022, the Bryan County Republican Party held their monthly meeting at the Richmond Hill City Center. Members of the organization and concerned citizens from Bryan County were invited to meet the Republican candidates competing for open seats as well as for the position of chairman of the school board. Public voting for these seats will occur during the Primary Election to be held on May 24, 2022.
Sample questions were submitted by the general public and approved by current party officers prior to the meeting and each candidate had one minute to answer six questions in turn as well as a seventh question that was comprised of three parts. The candidates were then given several minutes to introduce themselves and to say why they were running for a seat or re-election to the board. No questions were taken from the audience.
Clearly, everyone deciding to run for the school board is passionate about the best interests of their own children as well as the children of the community. Most candidates answered the questions asked, although one who was very well- spoken, on more than one occasion, chose to inform the community about what the board does do/is doing rather than answer the questions directly. One candidate seemed to be weighing words carefully as if “big brother” was watching rather than speaking from the heart, and it also may be that one ideologically is not really a Republican, but is running on the Republican ticket as this might be the only chance to win a seat. Having said all that, all candidates appeared to really want what is best for Bryan County.
Were you aware that the school board currently has two meetings per month? One meeting is called a work meeting and anyone can attend. This is not a meeting where interested parties are permitted to speak; you cannot address the board but will certainly gain insight as to what topics they are currently addressing. How many of you know that if you attend the other meeting (the nonworking one), you can only address the board if it is in regard to that night’s agenda. Any other issue has to be approved by the superintendent at least two days prior to the meeting. Very possibly, you might not get approved or the approval could possibly get removed. There is NO guarantee that you will be allowed to address the board.
Apparently, one of the candidates running for the board did not know this fact, as that person stated that it’s the law that parents can address the board and one only has to show up for a meeting, fill out a paper and speak during their allotted time. Clearly, that candidate has not attended any of the school board meetings recently in Bryan County.
Another interesting fact is that for the past ten years, the meetings were split fairly evenly between North and South Bryan County. Now that there are far more parents and grandparents attending the regular meetings, a decision coincidentally was made to have the majority of the meetings moved to the north end of the county.
Overall, most of the candidates seemed to understand parents’ wishes for more transparency as well as their having expectations of clear guidelines when it came to dealing with disrespect for teachers and other school employees, dress codes and situations like bullying in school and on the bus, which the candidate that “lectured” earlier in the meeting seemed to think that both those things already existed. One current board member actually admitted that the board has not been clear about those guidelines.
It is my opinion that when people sit on a board for many years (like most of the current members), it is clear to them what they do, but they forget the general public has no idea what they do and that there are many assumptions as to what the position actually entails. I suggest that a town hall meeting could conceivably be held rather than running informational ads in the newspaper as has been done recently about curriculum and what is being taught. This town hall meeting would be to inform the community about what the Board actually does, what is out of their realm, and what steps should be taken with regards to certain situations. Not every incident is a Board incident. The school administration has their duties as do the counselors, social workers and yes, even the police. I think this type of open meeting would benefit the whole community.
The one thing that was made perfectly clear by more than one candidate, was that the school needs to go back to being a school. Teachers need to teach and parents need to parent. The home environment is where children must be taught values, respect, manners, and how to be kind and compassionate. Schools for far too long have been given the job of co-parenting and that needs to stop, period.
Cathleen Korzik, Richmond Hill