2012-10-10 / Local & State

Southern Fulton Selects Barnhart As New Board Member

By Chanin Rotz-Mountz


The poole started with five and following a series of questions and lobbying by current Southern Fulton board members for their favorite candidate, there was only one standing. During a special meeting held Monday night, Eric Barnhart was selected to fill a vacancy on the school’s board of directors.

On a motion by board members David Smith and Danny Crouse, Barnhart was chosen to serve on the board through November 2013 as a replacement for outgoing member Dale Sigel. With two years remaining on that particular four-year term of office, voters will be asked at that time to elect an individual to complete the term that will conclude November 2015.

The decision to appoint Barnhart to the board was accepted on a 4-2 roll-call vote. Board members Patrick Bard and Mark Mosemann cast the dissenting votes, and fellow board members Sam Souders and Timothy Hull were not able to attend the October 8 special meeting.

Up until the motion was put on the floor, the board appeared to be evenly split in its support for Barnhart and fellow candidate Nicole Potter. Both Potter and Barnhart were asked an initial round of three questions as were three additional candidates, Todd Beatty, Douglas Bolden and Andrew Bright. Potter and Barnhart then fielded two more questions each pertaining to the skills and experience they would bring to the table as well as what are the biggest challenges facing public education.

The board was asked twice for a show of hands in support of their favorite candidate. Given that each of the votes ended in a tie, it was suggested by one board member to flip a coin. Board members instead opted to persuade their fellow members to switch to their candidate of choice by touting their strengths.

Some members felt Barnhart’s career outside of education would be beneficial, while others felt Potter’s 19 years of teaching experience would be helpful. It was noted that regardless of the outcome, the board would be getting a good member.

Potter, Beatty, Bolden and Bright were urged by the board to run for election next year.

Barnhart thanked the board but noted he certainly “didn’t expect to get on the board quite like that.”

In other matters Monday night, the board heard from concerned mother Vicki Ott, who was accompanied by four male students. Ott said the boys were on hand because of what has been going on with the varsity soccer program. She noted the boys feel they don’t have a team and cited a lack of cohesion and low morale. Ott added that soccer is very important to them.

Board President Timothy Mellott said Ott’s comments would be taken into consideration, but it is likely the season will continue as is. He indicated next year the students may be asked to pick a priority sport if they are engaging in more than one sports activity, and the coaches will work together. He concluded, if forced, the possibility exists that a sport could be cut.

Board member David Smith told the audience maybe Mellott had misspoken as the sports schedules are set before the season begins and the coaches should be working together to help the students. He said the board didn’t want to zero in on eliminating a sport.

Ott stated the boys didn’t want to pick one sport over the other. If they were asked to pick, she said the students who aren’t in dual sports would suffer as it’s likely there wouldn’t be enough members to field the soccer team.

Board member Mark Mosemann asked the boys not to quit because of difficulties with coaching. He asked that the community, students and parents work through the issue and bide their time to keep the sports programs alive for future participants.

Transportation contractor David Smith spoke during citizen participation after having previously submitted a written request to speak to the board. Smith aired his concerns regarding the board’s new policy on public speaking. Eventually, Superintendent Kendra Trail clarified for Smith that there are two ways participation can occur. Citizens can stand up and speak directly to the board or they can fill out a form in case they need answers to a specific question, said Trail, who added the intent was never to hinder individuals from speaking.

Satisfied to hear he will be able to stand and speak in the future without filling out a form, Smith said he considered his issue to be done and resolved.

The board tabled taking action on accepting a collective bargaining agreement between the district and the support professionals.

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