Buford school board makes small step toward transparency

Buford City Hall. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Caption
Buford City Hall. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

During the public comment period at the Aug. 27 Buford City Schools Board of Education meeting, many residents demanded more transparency from the board. Chairman Phillip Beard said it would happen. The board next meets at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 24, and there have been some changes.

There is now an email address for the board as a whole and one member on the website. However, there’s not an email address for the board chairman and there are no phone numbers for anyone on the board.

Friday, for the first time, the school board posted the agenda for the Monday meeting on the website. There are no minutes or other agendas posted.

Some in the community are disappointed that the board hasn’t done more.

“This is probably the least they could do and still say they did something,” said Ray Wilson, spokesman for Black Men United for Children & Humanity, a countywide civil rights group.

He was among the speakers at the August meeting.

“They’re not showing transparency at all,” said Wilson. “They want to continue to do things in secret, like hiring the interim superintendent without anyone knowing about it.”

Although the agenda doesn't mention it specifically, Beard said the contract for Joy Davis, interim superintendent, will be finalized and voted on at this meeting. There is a line item called "personnel recommendations" that could include a discussion about Davis' salary and benefits.

Beard also said that there would be a discussion about community involvement to find the next superintendent. There is no item mentioning that specifically on the agenda either.

At the August meeting, an audience member led the gathering in prayer and everyone slowly left, thinking that the meeting had ended. Beard hadn’t adjourned the meeting, and the board went into executive session and then came back to vote on Davis’ appointment.

Wilson said that won’t happen this month.

“I’m not leaving until I hear Mr. Beard say ‘meeting adjourned.’ ”

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