Beaufort County school board members said they need more time to digest to a proposal that would create committees to hear feedback from teachers and staff and advise the board on curriculum, finance and human resources issues.
Chairman Bill Evans proposed at Tuesday night's meeting the board establish five standing committees -- community outreach and legislative advocacy; curriculum and instruction; finance and operations; human resources; and student services.
The panels would gather input from teachers and administrators, and prepare recommendations for consideration by the full board.
"Committees will not be created to direct or oversee district staff, which is the function of the superintendent," according to Evans' proposal.
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No committee would speak or act for the board, except when given express authority to do so, according to the proposal.
Each committee would have no more than six board members. Each of the board's 11 members would co-chair one committee and serve on a least one other, but would be on no more than three committees.
A senior staff member would be assigned to each committee as a liaison.
Board members would be paid $50 for each committee meeting they attend up to a maximum of nine meetings a year.
The board chairman and the superintendent would serve as non-voting, ex-officio members of every committee.
Evans' proposal comes as newly elected Beaufort County school board member Mike Sanz says district leaders thwarted his attempts to reach out to teachers and staff to try to improve school discipline.
Interim superintendent Jackie Rosswurm said Sanz's email was blocked because of concerns about computer security.
Evans said last week that a committee structure would be more effective in seeking staff feedback than individual board members.
The board created two standing committees in January -- one to address legislative advocacy and the other finance and operations. The former would be expanded to also address community outreach under Evans proposal. The latter would continue to assist in developing the district's annual budget and annual audit reports.
"For years, the board operated without a standing committee structure, using ad hoc committees as needed," Evans said. "But after meeting with board members, there seemed to grow an interest in having these small groups to delve into important issues facing the district in more depth."
Board members generally supported the proposal, but wanted more time to consider committee parameters. Others asked the committees not be established until a new superintendent has been hired and can weigh in.
"I agree we need to get started on this," member Geri Kinton said. "But I don't want to rush into committees that don't serve us well. They need to be well-thought-out."
Evans said the matter will likely come back to the board for further discussion at its Feb. 19 meeting at the Bluffton branch library.