The Oconee County Board of Education spent an hour tonight interviewing the three applicants for its open Post 5 position, tossing them a series of questions on such topics as the responsibility of the board, perceived strengths and weaknesses of the school system and how the board members should handle complaints from the public.
Applicants Wayne Bagley, Michael Burnette and Glenn Townsend, seated at a table in front of the board members, answered the questions in rotation, and they gave mostly similar answers to the questions posed.
Bagley, a vice president of development for Lassiter Properties, made reference to his experience on the Oconee County Citizen Advisory Committee for Land Use and Transportation Planning in response to several of the questions to indicate his familiarity with local governmental issues.
Burnette repeatedly made reference to his experience as a businessman. He is an area manager for Tires Plus.
Townsend, a retired teacher and administrator in the Oconee County system, stressed his knowledge of the system and of educational issues generally.
The applicants recognized that the Board of Education sets policy, but it does not run the schools day-to-day.
They also said that complaints from the public should be directed to the school administration and that board members should not get involved.
Candidates were given three minutes to answer questions, which board members took turns in asking.
Burnette said the biggest strength of the Oconee County school system is the “teachers, parents and the students.”
“I’m going to have to say it is the community,” Townsend said.
“I think it is the students,” Bagley said.
Townsend said that one of the biggest problems facing the schools is a lack of maintenance people “to take care of the plant and facilities.”
“The teacher-parent communication is something that I think could use a little help,” Bagley said.
“Just like in business when you have high performers and low performers, the low performers are the ones that get the most attention,” Burnette said. He said all students need to be given attention.
Near the end of the interview session, board member Mack Guest asked each applicant to indicate what he would cut if the school budget needed to be trimmed more.
Bagley said he didn’t know what he would cut, but he would protect the teachers.
Burnette said he would look for whatever did not affect the classroom.
Townsend said he would focus on such things as lights that didn’t need to be on, travel that was not necessary and ways to make the bus system more efficient.
Only about 20 people attended the session, which was held at the superintendent’s office in Watkinsville.
The Post 5 position became vacant in May when Tom Breedlove resigned and moved out of the county. Seventeen citizens applied for the opening, and the three candidates interviewed have been selected by the board as the finalists.
Board Chairman David Weeks said after the meeting tonight that he expected the board to make its decision on Breedlove’s replacement by October.