Columbia County voters pick school board chair for first time

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December 5, 2006

Columbia County is choosing a new school board chair. It's the first time voters get to make this decision, which is usually left up to other board members.

News 12's Stephanie Baker talked to both candidates today.

This is a big election for the school system.

Superintendent Tommy Price recently announced his retirement, and that means voters are picking the person who will help pick the new superintendent.

For mother of three Sue Ellen Cermentaro, there's a lot riding on this ballot.

"If we get them off to a good start and we have good sound policies for them, it will work out well," she said.

Once the board hires the new superintendent, the chairman will work with that person on important issues, teacher recruitment and improving test scores.

Candidate Regina Buccafusco says with her eight years experience on the board and two years as chairman and vice chairman, she has the background to help the new leader make a smooth transition.

"The chairman is going to have to bring them into the community and make sure they understand our vision," she said.

Candidate Lee Muns says his educational experience--four years on the board and three years as vice chairman of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission--gives him the edge.

"Looking at the past couple years to see what are our trends, what are our weaknesses, what are our strengths," he said.

But it goes beyond the search.

Both candidates say higher educational standards and parent involvement in board decisions are top priorities.

All these issues are bringing parents to the polls.

"We need to make sure the right people are in there and the right decisions are made and the map for the future is in place," Sue Ellen said.

The current board starts superintendent interviews Saturday. Since they're still in early in the process, the new person will play a big part in the selection.