At the end of last Wednesday’s Regular Meeting, the BOE took up the reorganization of the Board. Eight of nine members were present. (Member-elect Patti Lou Bounds is on an extended trip overseas, and does not return until September 8).
John Fugate nominated Mike McMillan, Amber Rountree seconded.
Karen Carson nominated Lynne Fugate, but she declined the nomination. Ms. Fugate said, “I feel that over the last year, I am somehow viewed as a divisive figure in Knox County… I think it’s in the best interest of our school system if we as a Board can unite around a candidate who would be a unifier…”
Gloria Deathridge nominated Doug Harris, seconded by Ms. Carson.
A roll call vote was taken, and the vote, not surprisingly, was 4-4. Karen Carson asked each of the candidates to give a short statement on their vision and why they wanted the position.
McMillan said he wants the BOE to be “more accommodating to our teachers.” He mentioned the number of tests, and the fear and concern of teachers. He suggested the individual BOE members have input in the selection of the members of the Teacher Advisory Council.
Harris said he wants to “unify the Board.” He brought up increased funding and said he wants a “closer relationship with the superintendent,” and to “listen closely to teachers.” He said he has “some ideas to work with the superintendent behind closed doors.”
Gloria Deathridge asked how Harris and McMillan felt about the time commitment and visibility throughout the District. Harris said “The time is a hard thing to swallow, but I am willing to do whatever it takes.” McMillan said “I’m retired. I have a lot of time. I have certain obligations, but I will be around.”
A second vote was taken and again, the roll call vote was 4-4.
Chair Lynne Fugate asked, “Anybody think talking some more is going to change anything?” There was a unified response of “No.”
She said that having “anticipated that we might have a close vote,” she had reviewed the BOE policy, which says the board “shall reorganize in September.” There is no mid-month meeting in September due to the TSBA meeting and Board Retreat.
Carson suggested suspending the rules and having the reorganization in November when all the permanent BOE members are in place.
Bud Armstrong confirmed that with a supermajority vote (6 votes) they could suspend the rules. He further clarified that the policy says the Board “Shall reorganize at the first meeting in September.” So the only option, given the stalemate, was to vote to suspend the rules.
Armstrong said that then a motion can be made to choose a new date, with the motion requiring only 5 votes to pass.
Fugate asked “Does that mean I have to keep serving until we figure this out?”
Carson moved to suspend the rules, Lynne Fugate seconded. Carson spoke to the motion, pointing out that there was no choice about suspending the rules, and that her motion had no alternative date attached.
Doug Harris asked if they could go on record that they would have the vote in November. He said “I’m going on record saying in public that I want the vote in November.”
McMillan said, “Since we are discussing the particulars before we vote, since it says September, I think it should be done in September…I will not support postponing it until November.
Terry Hill said, “I think there would be some wisdom in having a new chair in place by our Board Retreat, either that or postpone the retreat also if we are talking about a new day and having new ideas under a new Board leadership.”
McMillan asked what happens if there is also a 4-4 vote to suspend the rules? Fugate said “I’m still the Chair,” but added, “I don’t know that we ought to presuppose how people are going to vote about the date…I’m not sure I want to wait until November.”
Harris said, “I’m fine with having a vote in September. Somebody’s going to have to play their cards here, or we’re going to sleep here tonight.” Carson called the question on the motion on the floor, and the roll call vote was unanimous to suspend the rules.
Next the BOE took up the new date of the BOE. Carson clarified that Patti Bounds is scheduled to be sworn in on September 29, a Work Session Meeting. Carson made a motion to move the reorganization to the October 1 Regular meeting immediately following.
After more discussion, a roll call vote was taken, with all eight members present voting to delay the reorganization until October 1.