School board and superintendent clarify roles, authority

tbarton@islandpacket.comApril 13, 2013 

The Beaufort County Board of Education will not change the way it does business -- at least for now -- despite concerns raised by a new board member in January.

During the final day of a two-day workshop Saturday, members said they're comfortable with the board's governance, but would like to pursue the creation of more committees to hear feedback from teachers and staff and to advise the board on curriculum, human resources and other issues.

Under the current model, adopted in 2008, the board sets broad policy and academic goals while the superintendent carries out the policies and runs day-to-day operations.

Critics of the model argue it delegates too much authority to the superintendent and, in the past, has left the school board in the dark about important district decisions.

"As long as there is fidelity in the implementation by (the superintendent) and the board reserves the ability to tweak the policy ... it feels comfortable with the model," chairman Bill Evans said.

In January, Hilton Head Island board member Mike Sanz urged the panel to discuss the issue, arguing the model gave the superintendent too much control over district matters.

Sanz backed away from that Saturday after the board and incoming superintendent Jeffrey Moss clarified their roles and the authority delegated to Moss. The new superintendent assured members he would provide "all the information you will need."

Board members refined language to make clear it sets the parameters within which Moss should work and then delegates authority to the superintendent to get the job done.

The board said it is the superintendent's responsibility to lead and direct all personnel and resources to accomplish its objectives.

"The relationship between the superintendent and the board wasn't real clear, and I think we've addressed some of those (concerns) today, which is great, and we'll continue to address them as we go along," Sanz said. "All I wanted to do was get the process going. ... My main concern was transparency, and I believe the direction we're headed will lead to that."

Members continue to look at establishing new committees to address broad areas of district operations. That approach, they said, would allow the panels to delve into specific issues and vet ideas before bringing them to the full board. The board created two committees in January -- one to address legislative advocacy and the other finance and operations.

Sanz and Evans believe additional committees will lead to better board oversight and allow the public to learn more about a particular subject and to debate public policy.

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom

Related content:

Beaufort County School Board wants more time to consider committee plan: Feb. 5, 2013

Outspoken school board member says mass email to teachers blocked: Feb. 3, 2013

Changes to Beaufort County School Board's policy governance model months away: Jan. 4, 2013

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service