There are no Rs or Ds on local school board ballots. Board members are elected on a non-partisan basis, and despite some past saber rattling from the Red-to-the-Roots crowd, it doesn’t appear that Republicans are preparing to change that status. This probably makes Knox County school board chair Patti Bounds happy.
For Bounds, a conservative who was raised Republican, it’s educational philosophy, not party lines that divide the board, the majority of whom oppose much of the reform agenda favored at the state and national levels.
Twenty-four hours after her colleagues voted to hand her the gavel, Patti Bounds still sounded surprised to find herself chairing the school board – and somewhat shell-shocked that the first vote she presided over was so difficult.
Two Septembers ago, the school board ended up in a 4-4 tie between Mike McMillan and Doug Harris as its new chair. The board had to wait for new member Patti Bounds to return from a long-planned (and non-refundable) European cruise to break the tie. To no one’s surprise, she voted for McMillan after being deluged with phone calls, e-mails, text messages and people dropping stuff off at her door.
This year, due to what Bounds describes as a family emergency that required her to care for her 7-week-old granddaughter, Emmaline, while her family vacationed at Disney World, it happened again. She says she hated it ending up that way, but is keeping with her priorities of “God, family and work,” in that order. She and husband Tommy watched via computer while the board deadlocked 4-4 between McMillan and Terry Hill – both of whom Bounds considers friends. They’ll vote again next month, and Bounds said she doesn’t know which way she’ll go.
The deal brokered between the county mayor and the superintendent of schools means that Tim Burchett will get to serve eight years without raising taxes, and Jim McIntyre will get to keep his job – at least until the next school board election.
By the time school board chair Mike McMillan faces re-election, he will have built two new Eighth District schools and so will County Commissioner Dave Wright, who will be term-limited out of office but may well have future political aspirations. Sixth District Commissioner Brad Anders will get to brag about delivering a middle school to Hardin Valley; ditto his district school board representative, Terry Hill.
News gets hard to come by during the holidays, which made this announcement from Knox County Schools’ prolific public information office enticing:
“PUBLIC NOTICE: (14-173) Please note that two or more Board of Education members may meet on Monday, Dec. 15, at 11:30 a.m. at Panera Bread, 2000 Cumberland Avenue. Education issues will be discussed and minutes will be taken. All board members are welcome to attend and will pay for their own meals.”