Friday, September 7, 2007

A new era

The Anniston Board of Education convened for the first time last night since the departure of Superintendent Sammy Lee Felton. Felton's placard was removed from the dais, and interim schools chief Joan Frazier took over his usual seat.

The calm atmosphere last night was in stark contrast to the tension that existed all summer, as Felton and some board members sparred over who should be assistant principal at the high school. Those meetings remained professional, with cordial hellos and handshakes. But everyone in attendance seemed a bit more at ease last night.

In a sign she's ready to welcome input from school staff and community members, Frazier introduced every central office administrator, principal and teacher in the audience. She also listened attentively and jotted down notes as Rose Munford, a community member and frequent audience member, asked about ways to bring nonprofit service providers into the schools--rather than sending students to them--to increase efficiency and maybe save some money.

And Tom Sudduth, local rep for the Alabama Education Association teachers union, complimented the entire staff afterward for presenting the budget--which can be a tedious process--in the most effective manner he's ever seen.

The presentation was the product of three folks in new positions: Frazier, plus Tanya Holcombe, chief school financial officer, and David Land, technology coordinator, both of whom were new hires this summer. It offered a glimpse of the potential new era for the city's embattled school system.

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