Patricia Yager, a University of Georgia marine sciences professor, was the only person to apply for a vacant seat on the Clarke County Board of Education.
In a letter to board members, Yager wrote that a recent presentation by public health professor Grace Bagwell Adams on the Athens Wellbeing Project motivated her to apply. “Large income disparities demand that our community improve equal opportunity and social justice for our citizens,” she wrote. “While the BOE cannot address every issue in our community, it can partner with others to facilitate change that improves opportunities for our children, particularly through informed oversight of our school district.”
In addition to 30 years of experience as a female STEM educator, professional accolades, public outreach and other community involvement, Yager is a member of the Cedar Shoals High School local governance team. One of her sons was valedictorian at Cedar Shoals in 2018, and the other is a sophomore there.
The District 4 seat was vacated by Jared Bybee in May. The board took applications to serve out the remainder of the term, which runs through 2020, for over a month. The application period ended Aug. 1, and a vote is scheduled for Aug. 8. Candidates were allotted five minutes to speak at the board meeting Thursday, but Yager will deliver her remarks by video because she’s attending a conference in Washington, DC. This will be the second seat the board has filled this year—it chose Frances Berry to replace Vernon Payne in District 2.
In other CCSD news, Superintendent Demond Means said he’ll give presentations on facilities, Milestones test results and job vacancies at this Thursday’s board meeting. Milestones scores were up 4% in language arts but flat in math in 2018–2019, Means said. As for facilities, the board voted in a called meeting after last week’s work session not to buy the Georgia Power building on Prince Avenue due to parking and other issues found during due diligence. “We don’t know if it’s going to fit our needs at this time,” Means said.
Means also said he wants to discuss after-school programs, which he said are “financially driven.” Some schools only offer the bare minimum—someone to watch kids while they play—while other schools with parents who can afford it offer classes like gymnastics or karate.
In addition to turnover among teachers and principals CCSD is losing two top administrators. Executive Director for Leadership Development Carletta Noland is returning to Milwaukee to be a regional superintendent, while Chief Financial Officer Larry Hammel—who skillfully navigated the district through the Great Recession—took what Means described as Hammel’s “dream job” in Forsyth County. Hammel’s No. 2, Byron Shueneman, will take over on an interim basis. “It’s a big loss, but you have to be happy for people like that,” Means said.