Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Barksdale Ends BOE Presidency

Patricia Barksdale marked her last meeting as school board president Tuesday by recounting the year's many challenges and thanking everyone who helped her get through them.

Barksdale presided during a turbulent term that saw numerous changes in the top administration, issuance of a harsh state monitoring report, budget woes and attacks on the Abbott designation that brought special funding to the district.

In June, Superintendent Paula Howard quit and Peter Carter was hired as interim superintendent. Carter had to begin to address the findings of the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum, which found the district deficient in four of five performance areas. Then Carter and the team he assembled to lead the district all quit in December, a turn of events that was leaked to the press, putting Barksdale in the hot seat to deal with the media.

Garnell Bailey was named interim superintendent in December and meanwhile a search begun in August yielded finalist Steve Gallon III as the new superintendent. Gallon was hired in February and will take over July 1.

State legislation aimed at funding fairness resulted in the first increase in the local school tax levy since 1992 and the district faced state challenges to the 2006-07 budget for several months while three different people held the seat of business administrator/board secretary. Gary Ottman, formerly business administrator/board secretary for 13 years, came back to the district in January.

Barksdale also cited “investigations and infiltrations” during the 2007-08 school year, which included 49 board meetings.

Through it all, she wore her “We’re Serious about Learning” button and welcomed state and county officials who met with the board to address the monitoring report and other issues.

“It has been my absolute, absolute pleasure to serve as president of the Plainfield Board of Education and most important, to serve the interest of the children,” she said Tuesday.

After the April 15 election, the nine-member board will meet to reorganize and select a president to serve until the 2009 election. Incumbents Agurs Linward “Lenny” Cathcart Jr., Bridget Rivers and Vickey Sheppard are all seeking re-election to three-year terms. Challengers are Jaclynne Callands and Yolanda VanFleet. The polls are open from 2 to 9 p.m.

--Bernice Paglia


Post a Comment

<< Home