New year brings new School Board Chair and new ideas

The Dougherty County School Board nominated and elected James Bush as the new Chairman

Dougherty County Schools may have had a free day on Monday thanks to icy conditions, but school board members were busy with homework of their own including inducting three new board members and voting on a new chair.

The board nominated and elected James Bush as the new chairman. Bush has served on the School Board since 2004 and was most recently Vice-Chairman.

"I look forward to working with all of the school board members," says Bush. He says he wants to bring more cohesiveness to the board and make meetings shorter.

Former School Board Chairman David Maschke says he's hopeful the new board will take the school district to higher levels.

"There are challenges ahead that are going to have to be addressed and we're going to have to try to do our best to work through them," says Maschke.

Bush says he wants to better organize committees including the committee designed to fine tune attendance policies.

"We're going to have to do something about drop outs and the attendance rates and all kinds of things, and we will look at all of that," he says.

The attendance committee was scheduled to report new policy ideas to make sure students attend school on the first day and not 30 days later. Superintendent Dr. Joshua Murfree says 25 percent of students this year came to school after the first day. He says he's still eagerly awaiting ideas which were supposed to be presented at the School Board's mid-October meeting.

"We don't ever just want to meet deadlines; we want to beat deadlines. If something is due Friday we got to have it ready Wednesday or Thursday, and I'm going with that even with the board members and I think they clearly understand that," says Murfree.

Along with new attendance policies, Dr. Murfree also says community members can expect more investigators coming to Albany to look into CRCT tests. Currently, he says initial investigators say they have not been able to identify cheating. He says they could have 20 to 40 investigators at a time interviewing teachers as they have done in Atlanta.

Board members and the superintendent have their individual projects they want addressed, but there's one they all agree on.

"The bottom line â" it's all about the children. What are we going to do about the children. If we take care of the children, everything else will fall into place," says Murfree.