The meeting was introduced by Dr. Steve Smith, Superintendent, Lowndes County Schools. Lowndes County Schools had a written position statement, with everything from a broad variety of test scores and other metrics to specific examples of existing collaborations such as loaning busses to the Valdosta School System for away sporting events.
Dr. Smith clarified that:
This is not a community forum, it is not an open dialogue.He told me before the meeting started that he was concerned that if they opened it up to questions from the audience it would take all night and it had been hard enough to get the various elected officials to show up at all without expecting them to stay for that. I didn’t see but maybe a dozen non-elected audience members, so I wonder whether that really would have happened, but I applaud the various governments for collaborating at all. He did say if you had a question you could write it down and hand it to a member of your elected government or school board. He also indicated that committees might form, not that evening, but perhaps growing out of that evening’s meeting. He reiterated this meeting was for brainstorming among the elected officials.
The elected officials included Valdosta Schools Superintendent and many VBOE members, Lowndes School Superintendent and Superintendent-elect and many LCBOE members, Valdosta Mayor, City Manager, and many city council members, and Lowndes County Manager, Clerk, and voting commissioners, but not the Chairman.
Wes Taylor, Lowndes High School Principal & Lowndes County Schools Superintendent Elect talked about finances.
Valdosta Mayor John Gayle said we’re regional now (regional hospital, regional university, etc.). He talked about how Troup County went about landing the Kia plant, which had to do with each governmental entity taking a role and collaborating. (It had nothing to do with school consolidation.)
VBOE member Vanassa Flucas said they try to put everything related to their schools on their website, in an effort of transparency for parents and students. Plus:
We noticed that since we put our strategic plan on our website approximately three years ago, it was very well received. It was very heartening; people could find the information that they wanted.Imagine that! Transparency results in citizen feedback which is heartening to the elected board!
Valdosta Superintendent Bill Cason gave the only real strategy and vision talk of the night, about teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, and poverty, already posted as They come to school hungry; they come to school homeless.
County Manager Joe Pritchard claimed the county was about to do strategic planning. Maybe that’s in the minutes of the undisclosed location county retreat of a few weeks ago; I didn’t see any strategy in the admirably voluminous VDT writeups of that “open” meeting to which the public was not invited. Anyway, Pritchard then mentioned emergency management facilties and Ashley Tye.
Dr. Smith’s last words included:
It’s OK to agree to disagree: it’s healthy!And that’s the path to open discussion among all parties in the community.
Dr. Wes Taylor, incoming Lowndes County School Superintendent, wrapped up saying he hoped this was only the beginning of further joint meetings and more collaboration, and that we all share Dr. Cason’s concerns.
Here’s the VDT writeup about the meeting, by Brittany D. McClure and David S. Rodock 30 March 2012, A shared vision for education.
Here’s a video playlist:
Communication, Expansion, Development, Strategy, Projects, Insight, Forecast,
Valdosta-Lowndes Governmental Leadership Meeting, LCBOE, VBOE, LCC, VCC (Joint Governments),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 29 March 2012.
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE).