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New school board members will be sworn in Monday
Calkins, Smith to join panel
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GAINESVILLE — A swearing-in ceremony for the Gainesville City School Board of Education’s new members is set for Monday.

Juvenile Court Judge Cliff Jolliff will swear in Maria Calkins and Sammy Smith at the beginning of the board’s monthly work session, which begins at 5 p.m.

Calkins will replace Lee Highsmith, who is serving as chairwoman, and Sammy Smith will replace Frank Harben. Highsmith and Harben each decided not to run for another four-year term.

Smith said that during a new board member training session sponsored by the Georgia School Boards Association, a colleague described the first six months’ service as "an apprenticeship."

"That may be an apt description, given we’re in the middle of a school year, middle of the budget cycle and taking office as the General Assembly convenes," he said.

He said he looks forward "to the service, to the system and to the taxpayers of the city."

"One hopes that the administration will recognize the strengths Maria Calkins and I bring to the table," Smith added.

Calkins said she brings no particular issues to the school board.

"I would love to have one principal at (Gainesville Middle School). I would love to work on communications with parents and with the community on a more regular basis," she said.

"But these are things that I think that our school system is already working toward."

Also Monday, the board is set to elect officers and approve a meeting schedule for 2008.

A public hearing on the system’s application to the state for charter status is set for 4:30 p.m.

School systems have until Jan. 15 to apply for the status, which would let them make educational reforms while having some freedom from state and federal regulations.

The hearing and swearing-in ceremony and work session will take place at the school system’s main offices at 508 Oak St.

Board members, including the outgoing ones, are scheduled to meet for their annual retreat on Jan. 12.

Details about the retreat weren’t available Friday, except that Superintendent Steven Ballowe has said it would be held locally.

Last year, the board met at Brasstown Valley Resort in Young Harris.