B y Jaime Thomas
It was boys versus girls at a school board vote in Granville last Tuesday night.
In a battle of the sexes, Kathy Nelson nominated Suzanne McEachron as school board president, and Eric Scribner nominated incumbent John Shaw. Shaw won 5-4 with the women raising their hands for McEachron and the men for him.
Shaw then took his place and asked for nominations for vice-president, and the same scenario played out again. Nekia Torres nominated McEachron for the position while John McDermott nominated incumbent Kevin Ely. Ely won by another 5-4 vote with the men for him and the women for McEachron.
On Wednesday, Shaw said he didn’t know if the women have an issue with him as president, but he was not upset the vote was not unanimous.
“Apparently they want a change of some kind, but we have some dissenters every year,” he said, “We all seem to work pretty good together.”
McEachron, in turn, did not give specific reasons for vying for president, but she admitted the votes did seem to be women against men. She did not say if the female board members were unhappy with Shaw’s performance as president.
“I think John did a good job last year—I think someone else would’ve done a different job,” she said. “I would’ve been happy to assume a stronger leadership role, but sometimes you have to accept that’s not what the majority wants. You can choose to be upset or you can choose to work with the group. We will work together,” she said.
Nelson said she was disappointed McEachron was not elected.
“I thought she would do the best job, but it’s a democracy and everyone’s entitled to their choice,” she said.
Committees to combat bullying, drugs
Bessen suggested the board consider forming several subcommittees to address a number of issues in the district during the meeting. The idea comes after the results of a social issues survey, given to students in 2012, were released.
“The data was a little sad. Kids feel they’re being bullied, there is a lot of use of drugs, and only 17 percent thought if their parents caught them with drugs or alcohol they’d be in trouble,” Bessen said.
The purpose of these investigative groups is to identify the cause of these issues and find potential solutions, which they will present to the rest of the board.
“What’s the cause of these root problems? What is it that the school could fix, and what is it the community could help with?” Bessen said. “We really need to look at data, dig into it and decide what we as a school need to do.”
He mentioned that the school has already begun initiatives to combat bullying, such as PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports,) but that the district needs to do more.
“Today our kids cannot get away from a bully. It’s endless; it’s relentless,” he said. The three subcommittees include a strategic planning group, a task force and a math committee, to deal with poor mathematics testing results.
Also during the meeting, members of the board expressed varying opinions on the state of the boys’ high school locker room.
The board had discussed the issue during a meeting last month, during which Athletic Director Steve Palmer said the lockers were in bad shape. At that meeting Shaw mentioned that the board had discussed the subject in previous years.
“In the past they were mutilated. The board said if that’s the way they’re going to treat them, that’s what they get, but we’ll take a look at that,” he said.
When the problem was again raised last Tuesday, Shaw said he had looked through the locker room with several other officials.
“They destroyed them. That’s not wear and tear; they did that. The girls’ locker rooms are still in good shape,” he said. He said lockers in question have dents and doors that are falling off, among other damage.
McEachron and several other board members said the new crop of students shouldn’t be punished for their predecessors’ actions. Board Member Audrey Hicks pointed out that visiting students who see the locker room won’t respect the school, and the board mulled over the possibility of monitoring student use of the lockers to pinpoint who damages them. Shaw said he will get an estimate on the cost of replacement or repair.
Meeting schedules, appointments
Though the board of education currently meets twice each month, members voted Tuesday night to reduce that schedule to one monthly meeting.
Bessen presented the idea to the board because he said he spoke with other area districts and found that most meet only once per month. He said he doesn’t expect the meetings to be much longer, because they will stick to business.
The other slot that was the month’s second meeting will be used for subcommittees to meet or for the board to hold open forums with the community.
The board also appointed a number of officials to various positions and approved other matters of annual and monthly business. At the end of the meeting, the board voted to approve Camille Harrelson, director of special education, as the new junior/senior high school principal with an initial salary of $99,500.