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WILLIAMSON COUNTY: School Board member votes remotely a county first Body approves 2013-14 calendar

The Williamson County School Board dove headfirst into cyberspace Monday night when one of its members participated in the meeting remotely and cast his votes over the Internet.

Pat Anderson, chairman of the school board, hosted a video conference with 6th District Representative Terry Leve on a laptop placed on the dais. She reported at the onset of the meeting that she and Leve could see and hear each other in real time, and that she would cast his votes at his direction. Anderson said that it was indeed Leve's voice coming through the video conference and over the room's PA system, although the audience was not able to see the videoconference. Leve asked questions about several measures before the board, and proposed a failed amendment to the 2013-14 academic calendar. He indicated his votes audibly, which Anderson called back to him before executing the vote on his behalf. Leve participated from Colorado where he announced earlier this year he would relocate. (Leve’s legal residence is still in Williamson County and he had not officially resigned from the school board at press time.)

State legislators recently extended a law to allow school board members to participate in board meetings via video conference, provided the absence is for professional reasons, according to Jason Golden, deputy superintendent and general counsel for the Williamson County School System.

“Terry Leve was out of town for work,” Golden told the Williamson Herald. “[This] was the first time we have used this law.”

With Leve's participation via the Internet, all 12 board members were present at the Nov. 16 meeting.

Board approves the 2013-14 calendar

The School Board voted to approve the calendar for the academic year 2013-14 as originally submitted, but not without consideration of two amendments. Eleventh District Representative Mark Gregory and Leve each proposed changes that would have renamed the “Winter Holiday” and “Spring Break” respectively as “Christmas Holiday” and “Good Friday Holiday” in honor of Christian holidays.

“We've had a lot of discussion on this,” said Dr. Mike Looney, school district superintendent. “And based upon the recommendation we got from [legal counsel], I recommend you approve the calendar as submitted.”

The motions each were struck down 7-5, with Gregory, Leve, Tim McLaughlin, P.J. Mezera, and Eric Welch, favoring the use of religious terms.

“Political correctness is tearing at the very fabric that has held this nation together for more than 200 years,” Gregory said. “I am disheartened at the political correctness here in Williamson County, which, based upon the [2012 presidential] election results, is one of the most conservative in the country.”

Looney said the non-religious names for the breaks have been used in Williamson County “for multiple terms.”

Reward Schools

Looney awarded “Reward School” banners to administrators and faculty of nine institutions that the state recognized as among the top 5 percent for annual growth  and/or academic achievement: Bethesda, Kenrose, Longview, Trinity, Walnut Grove, and Westwood elementary schools; and Brentwood, Franklin, and Page high schools.

 “We have some spectacular employees,” Looney said. “And we know there are still great things to come.”

Posted on: 11/28/2012


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