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3 Gainesville school board members say leadership needs improvement
Members decline discussing survey results about system's governance structure
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For the second meeting in a row, the Gainesville Board of Education members declined to talk about an item — with at least two members saying they need additional time.

The board had a “self-assessment” on the agenda, and the first item included three members who said improvement is needed, Delores Diaz, the board chair, said.

However, she asked three times “how we could improve” the board’s “governance structure,” and no one commented. She noted three of the four board members who did the anonymous, online assessment said improvement is needed. One member rated it “satisfactory.”

Board members Sammy Smith and Willie Mitchell said the meeting was the first time they had seen the survey results, and they would like to have additional time.

The assessment is an annual process.

Four board members attended the meeting — Smith, Mitchell, Diaz and Brett Mercer. Board member John Filson did not attend.

Diaz asked if they would then be willing to have another meeting and discuss the parts of the assessment in detail. Both agreed.

The only discussion about the survey was about the “leadership team,” which includes the five board members and Superintendent Wanda Creel.

“Team equals six,” Smith said.

The item about “board self-assessment” came after the board held at 39-minute closed session on personnel. No motions were made after the closed session, but the board did approve a personnel list at the end of the meeting.

Diaz said at least part of that session was about the board’s evaluation of Creel.

Creel received a three-year contract when she came to Gainesville, and she is starting her third year.

Asked if the board would have another called meeting before the scheduled July 18 meeting, Diaz responded, “I have no idea.”

At the June 20 meeting, which also included four members, two sets of minutes were not approved. Both the June 2 called meeting and June 6 work session minutes did not get a motion or second for approval. Diaz missed the June 20 meeting because of a death in her family.

Board members made no comment about those minutes.

Six people attended Thursday’s meeting who have raised questions about the proposed building of a new school at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy. It was noted that the board has not responded to comments and questions from four speakers at the June 6 meeting.

Mercer said a response is ready and is awaiting the approval of all board members before being sent.

IN OTHER BUSINESS

• The board approved spending $167,000 for computers for an audio-video room, 40 laptops and 120 Chromebooks, 11 70-inch TVs, an Apple TV with iPads and furniture, including 300 desks for Gainesville High School.

• Creel said the ninth-grade center will have “true transition” courses for the first time, requiring new classrooms.

• Creel explained that three new classes for English for speakers of other languages will be added at the high school, and a second class each of construction and early childhood education will be added. Those additions are based on requests from students, she said.

• The board approved a contract for athletic training services for 2016-17 with the Northeast Georgia Physicians Group. The medical practice will provide the service of two trainers at the high school and one for the middle school for free. The school district will pay mileage expenses above $750 per trainer. Chris Griner, the school district’s financial officer, said the total cost should be less than $5,000. Benchmark Physical Therapy, which has had the contract, bid $30,000, which covers the salary of a trainer, Griner said.

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