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October 10, 2010

Few study power of school boards

James Salzer and Nancy Badertscher

A small group of people you've probably never heard of spend $8 billion of your tax money each year, employ more than 90,000 people and set policies that affect 800,000 area schoolchildren.

Dr. Ricky A. Welkis is one of the few audience members at the sparsely attended Cobb county school board meeting in Marietta recently. Welkis is a school board candidate for post-6 in the upcoming election.

They are elected, but in some cases with fewer than 20 percent of voters casting ballots.

They are your school board members.

Metro Atlanta has some of the best and some of the worst.

There are patterns discernible in their bios: Most have college degrees; most get annual training; but a surprising 40 percent have had financial problems -- bankruptcies or liens -- even as they control multimillion-dollar and even billion-dollar budgets.

Recently, several metro Atlanta boards have presided over school systems in crisis. Often, those that do are accused of meddling at the schoolhouse.

School Board governance vs. administrative intransigence is a topic worth exploring, per Madison School Board member Lucy Mathiak's recent blog post. It appears, to this observer, that some board members prefer to go along with the status quo while a few others are trying to drive change.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at October 10, 2010 2:06 PM
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