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New leaders, counsel for school board

Staff Writer

Along with three new members of the Lincoln County Board of Education being sworn in this week, the board faces a change in leadership and legal counsel.
Candy Burgin will now serve as the board’s chair, with newcomer Mark Mullen as her Vice-Chair, following unanimous votes for both candidates during Wednesday’s session.
Previous School Board Attorney David Black will no longer provide counsel for the group, and Dean Shatley of Campbell Shatley is filling the slot until a more permanent candidate is chosen.
Black submitted his letter of resignation after nearly 12 years of service, saying he’d heard that the new board did not wish to continue his services or honor his contract, which would end in June 2015.
The group unanimously voted to keep Shatley temporarily, until a final decision is made and proposals are sent out to potential attorneys in the near future.
New member Cathy Davis asked Shatley about the nature of his relationships with his estimated 30 other district. Shatley assured the group that he would be there for their needs until the School Board found someone for a full-time spot.
Shatley was familiar with various members and could be a potential candidate for the permanent position, though board members Bob Silver and Ed Hatley expressed interest in an attorney who lives locally and doesn’t face Shatley’s commute from Asheville.
Visiting the local Clerk of Courts and the ability to perform various duties and tasks in the area were concerns the members agreed were required of the next legal counsel, along with being well-versed in educational law, Silver noted.
Taking over as the new board chair, Burgin seemed excited and anxious to learn the tools of her new trade, occasionally verifying with Hatley, the outgoing chair, that she was following proper procedure for voting and other chair duties she hasn’t conducted formerly.
Prior to her new position, serving as the Vice-Chair for two years and having experience in a leadership role on the board, Burgin was the right choice for the spot.
“I’m tickled to death; she will be an excellent chair,” Hatley told the Times-News on Thursday. “I told Candy on a couple of occasions that anything I can do to help her, I will. She was the logical pick.”
Returning School Board member Tony Jenkins made his voice heard, as he played a role in the selection of both candidates — nominating Mullen and seconding Clayton Mullis’ bid for Burgin. Hatley provided a second vote for Mullen — the newcomer who is already headed toward one of the highest roles on the board.
His biggest task at hand is getting acquainted with the rules and regulations that go along with his new title, he said, but he is optimistic and is anticipating getting to know his fellow members and the issues in the community that need to be addressed.
A more seasoned leader of the group than her right hand man, Burgin still feels equally as honored for her selection, and though it’s a “big task to tackle,” she welcomes it and is confident that the new School Board members share goals and have the community, its students and the taxpayers’ best interests at heart.
Other items discussed on Wednesday:
The School Board will meet on Tuesdays in January, after a conversation about schedule conflicts for members and to accommodate patrons who want to attend. Committees meeting next month will come together on Jan. 8, and the board will meet the following week, Jan. 15, rather than the typical Wednesdays. Though the change isn’t permanent, the board will discuss whether this will become a permanent change, or if they will change the policy to leave the day open each month until the members decide on a day of the week that works for everyone. Shatley recommended the latter, so as to avoid having to go back and change the policy every time the board has a conflict with a particular day.
The board will also mull over ideas for board meeting locations, rather than just meeting at its office on Generals Boulevard.
The group voted unanimously on one of their first action items as a new board — the 2013-2014 high school registration guide. All in favor, the members decided the addition of arts courses at the advanced level, would be a benefit to next school year’s curriculum.
A representative of the Denver Spartans, Bryan Simmons, requested permission to distribute material about the organization to area middle school students once a year. Currently, students from East, North and Lincoln Charter high schools are playing with the Denver group.
Board members met in special session to discuss a personnel issue. They reported not taking any action.
Monday, the Board of Education Policy and Budget and Finance committees will meet to discuss the future meeting day of the School Board and its committees, along with construction plans.
A special-called board meeting will follow, with discussions on a personnel issue.

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