City addresses school board appointee issue

May 26, 2017 chris
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By Sarrah Peters, News Editor

On May 9, the Gadsden City Council voted to table a resolution on District 3 Councilman Thomas Worthy’s School Board nominee Zachary Andre’ Huff for 30 days. The decision caused a disagreement among the councilmembers.

Huff would replace Lynn Taylor on the Gadsden City School Board. Worthy said that Taylor thought her term lasted until June 2017, although it expired in June 2016. Worthy said that he let her stay on because she was doing a good job.

At the May 24 city council meeting, Gadsden resident Anne Mitchell addressed the council about educational concerns, including the tabled resolution.

“In the last several months I have heard people state misinformation, untruths, rumors and innuendos about our school system,” said Mitchell. “I have seen division and fear grow.”

Mitchell commended Gadsden City Superintendent Dr. Ed Miller on his sensitivity. She admitted that there could be improvements, and stated that Miller would be the first to acknowledge that fact.

Mitchell also stated that while it is a board of education matter, it is bigger than that, as it affects the whole city, and that the council became involved in the issue when it did not allow Worthy’s nominee to be appointed. She asked council members to provide leadership for the city and be honest about why they stopped Worthy’s nominee.

City Councilman Bob Echols (D4) responded first, saying that although he voted against the resolution, the appointee was not blocked, merely put off for 30 days.

“I have no doubt that he will be elected to the school board,” said Echols. “I want to make sure that everyone understands. We did not turn him down, all we did was put it off for 30 days.”

Councilmember Billy Billingsley (D5) also stated that he was sure the apointee would get approved after the 30 day period.

“What is the 30 days going to make a difference?” asked Worthy.

Worthy also stated that it was not a black or white issue. He told residents to stay calm and not overreact by pulling their kids out of the schools.

Council members went on to discuss their support for the schools.

“I’ve been here 11 years, and the councils that I’ve worked with, including this one right here, are all about having the best school we can have,” said Gadsden Mayor Sherman Guyton.

Guyton said that the rumor that the he had influenced Councilmember Johnny Cannon’s (D6) vote was not true.  Cannon stated that no one influenced his vote. Echols addressed the rumor that Councilmember Cynthia Toles (D1) would be the new superintendent and said that it was not true.

Council President Deverick Williams (D2) thanked everyone for their comments and civil discourse.

“As far as the school board goes, I think a lot of good points have been made,” said Williams. “We all support the school system. I think we all agree that we want to see a positive outcome with our students when they enter our school system and exit it. We also know that our school system determines how this community is perceived. I think we all agree on that, regardless as to what side of this issue you’re on. I think where we disagree is the path forward.”