Posts Tagged ‘Muscogee County School Board’

Leaders Come Together for the Good of the Community in the Library Green Space Controversy

January 20, 2010

Finally, tf appears that the ugly asphalt from the old Columbus Square parking lot is going tobe removed, and green space will take its place.  At a joint news conference at the new Muscogee County School District Public Education Center building, representatives for the school board, the library board, and the City of Columbus announced a Memorandum of Understanding on the issue.

The understanding is that the city will supply $1,050,412.46 of the 1999 SPLOST Projects to the School Board to remove the asphalt and “for seeding and landscaping said property to the extent that the funds will allow.”

We got a lesson in what can be done when two leaders get together to resolve a controversial issue.  Those two leaders are Mayor Jim Wetherington and School€ Board Chair P$hilip Schley.   Their coming together means the library site is going to be enhanced by a beautiful park instead of a stark old parking lot.  

A Memorandum of Understanding was issued today that allows the City to give $1,050,412.46 to the MCSD to  get the job done.  There were also some land swapping deals between the school system and the city. You can get the details about all of that in the paper and on TV newscasts.  

Attorney Frank Myers, who the mayor gave credit to for helping to bring the two sides together, said that the thing that really got things moving was when the late David Rothschild called Mayor  Wetherington four days before he died and asked him to get the issue resolved.  After that the mayor and  School Board Chair Philip Schley came together.  The city and the school board had been battling over who owned the 1999 SPLOST money that would be used for the park project.  Once they agreed that the public owns it, they decided it should be used to remove the asphalt and build the park. It won’t be called a park, though. State law doesn’t allow a library to operate a park, I was told. I guess it’ll just be library grounds. 

Of course, Columbus Council and the School Board each must approve the memorandum, but it appears they will;  however, you can’t be sure of that.  And this can mean the lawsuit filed by a group that included Rothschild, whom Myers said was totally dedicated to the good of the community, will be dropped.  Josh McKoon, lawyer for the group,  said of the seven plaintiffs in the suit, only one remains to be convinced it should be dropped. McKoon said he hopes it will be dropped and believes it will.

So now it looks as though the asphalt will be removed and replaced by a beautiful green area. That’s what I’ve wanted all along.

Mayor Wetherington Will Vote for School SPLOST

July 29, 2009


 Rotarian Dr. Philip Schley, Chair of the Muscogee County School District Board of Education,  stood up during the question and answer session following Mayor Jim Wetherington’s talk to Columbus Rotarians and asked how the mayor was going to vote on the school SPLOST.  

“Richard [Bishop of Uptown Columbus]  asked me about that this morning, and I told him I hadn’t decided, yet.  But,  I am going to vote yes.”  He explained that was slow to respond because Columbus voters approved of his SPLOST for public safety and street improvements, and he didn’t want to become known as the mayor who is an expert on taxes.  “But, I am going to vote yes.  BRAC is going to mean we need more classrooms.  I am  not, however, going to campaign for it.” 

Jim Wetherington, Mayor, Columbus, GA, J. Robert Jones, Presdient, Rotary Club of Columbus

Jim Wetherington, Mayor, Columbus, GA, J. Robert Jones, President, Rotary Club of Columbus

The mayor gave a “state of the city” speech to members of the Rotary Club of Columbus in which he reported that his goal of 100 new police officers has almost been reached.  He said Columbus is fairing better than a lot of cities during these economically tough times,  that some are on the brink of bankruptcy,  but things are looking good for Columbus, with NCR bringing 800 new jobs to the city when its atomatic teller machine factory opens,  and all of the new jobs that the buildup at Fort Benning will bring.  He also mentioned that two new fire stations are being constructed,  and two police precincts will be opened, one at the new CB&T branch on Buena Vista Road, and another one in North Columbus in the vicinity of Veterans Parkway and Williams Road.

I asked him about all of the talk about his not running for reelection. He smiled and said, “Oh, I don’t know…age is catching up to me.”

MCSB May Delay Approval of Charter School Application

October 20, 2008

     Muscogee County School District Board Chairman James Walker wants to put the breaks on appying for Charter School status for the district. He thinks more time is needed to study the proposal and to allow more public input.  That means there is a good chance the school board will not approve filing for  the application at tonight’s meeting.

  “We’ve already missed one of the deadlines, the one in May, and the November one is coming up. If we want to do this, we can do it next year. Besides, we are about to have a new superintendent and perhaps we should wait to get his or her ideas about this.”

  MCSD Superintendent John Phillips’ interim term ends at the end of November and Walker beleives it is possible a new superintendnet will be chosen by then.

  “What if  you don’t? Are you going to ask Dr. Phillips to extend his interim period?”

  “Well, that would be a good idea. He is already experienced at the job.”

  Would Dr. Phillips stay a little longer if needed? He told me that would consider it if he is needed, if it can be done without adversely affecting his pension.

MCSD Holds Public Forums on Selecting a Superintendent

August 21, 2008

If you are interested in learning more about the Muscogee County School Board’s process for selecting a new superintendent,  you’ll get your chance Tuesday, August 26. The Board is holding forums at Rigdon Road Elementary and Double Churches Middle School at 7 p.m.

  Too bad they are holding those forums on the same night that Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore and Joe Galloway are conducting a lecture and book signing. The pair, who had written We Were Soldiers Once…and Young, have produced a sequel, We Are Soldiers Still.  They will appear at the Columbus Public Library auditorium the same night, August 26, and at the same time, 7 p.m., as the MCSD forums.

What The MCSD Board Survey Doesn’t Ask

August 18, 2008

  The Muscogee County Board of Education wants to know what attributes we value the most in a school superintendent. There is a survey form for you to fill out on the MSCD website. You can go to it by clicking this link. I hope the Board publishes the results because I would like to know them.

  Meanwhile, this has me thinking about what I most value in a superintendent. Do I want a “benevolent dictator” like the late Dr. William Henry Shaw? That’s how a lot of people describe him, and there was no doubt that he was a very strong, progressive leader.   

  My main reason for living in 1945, the year Dr. Shaw came to Columbus, was to play a snare drum in the Jordan band, which was a small and not very good outfit. It wasn’t that we didn’t try, but we didn’t have a full time band director. He, and the school board who backed him, changed that dramatically. All of the high schools hired full time band directors, bought band uniforms and additional instruments and Columbus’ high schools were put on the musical map. Jordan, under Bob Barr, won all sorts of impressive awards, including national awards in places like Chicago and New York.  

  The fact that Dr. Shaw quickly put resources into the arts was emblematic of his approach to education. While he was very much interested in improving all classroom instruction, he understood that education  goes beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic. 

  He was definitely a politician, knowing how to get his way with city leaders and his school boards. The boards were not elected then, but appointed by a Grand Jury.  I don’t know if that made them more inclined to go along with him than if they had been elected.  The results, however, point that way.

  The real test came when the school’s were racially integrated. I thought he handled it well. I remember a conversation I had with him about it. I was news director and evening news anchor at WRBL Radio and TV at the time. He said, “You know, Dick, the problem is not with the kids. It’s their parents. They are the ones who are having the greatest difficulty in accepting this change, and, of course, the kids pick up on that and it affects their behavior.”

  So we have the example of what a strong superintendent can accomplish.  “Strong leader” is not one of the choices on the school board’s survey. There can be a problem with a “strong leader.” He or she may be strong, but could lead in the wrong direction.  I guess the closest to “strong leader” would be the choice of “charisma.”  Charisma is fine, but it doesn’t mean the leader will lead in the right direction, either.

  Also, not listed as a choice is “educational philosophy.” Closest to that I suppose is “visionary.” I think “philosophy” is an extremely important issue.  I think the school board should find out the superintednent’s philosohpy of education, and if it agrees, and he or she meets the other qualifications the board requires. hire the person and let him or her do the job. Stop all of this micromanagement business that the board engages in now. If the new superintendent does the job, fine, if not, get another one.

  Being a lover of democracy, I can’t say that I don’t want an elected board. But, it does have its problems. The power of being elected does seem to affect a board member’s ego, and strong egos do seem to go hand in hand with being a person who wants to hold public office. While the board members may say the main reason they run for the office is beacuse they want to serve the community and the children,  the quest for power is probably an underlying reason.

  Bottom line: hire a good superintendent and let him or her do the job. Give that person guidelines. Hold him or her accountable, but don’t try to micromange.


The MCSD supplied this public service announcement:
The Muscogee County Board of Education seeks input from the community in staffing the next Superintendent of Education for the Muscogee County School System.  August 31st is the deadline to complete and submit a Community Survey.  This one-page survey is available at the following locations: Central Administration building of the Muscogee County School District, the four public libraries in Muscogee County, and the office of Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce.  The Community Survey is also available at the School District website at  The citizens of Muscogee County are encouraged to participate in this survey, as well as two upcoming community forums.  Contact Karen P. Jones at 706-748-2018 for additional information.