The newest member of Columbia County’s school board officially took office Tuesday.
Local attorney David Dekle, joined by his family, was sworn in by county Probate Judge Alice Padgett during the board’s first meeting in 2013.
Dekle defeated Carolyn Chase in a runoff to replace longtime trustee Wayne Bridges in District 1.
“I want to say how humbling and exciting it is to have this opportunity to serve the citizens in Columbia County,” he said. “One of the things I’ve learned is we have an amazing school system, and that’s made by amazing people.”
Also at the meeting, school officials gave tentative approval to adding a handful of teaching positions in county elementary and middle schools next year.
“At this point, we’re only asking for an increase of 3.5 teachers,” said schools Superintendent Charles Nagle.
With the number of elementary school pupils expected to rise by 124 children, Nagle asked the board to approve adding two first- through fifth-grade teachers for the 2013-2014 school year.
“That’s if our kindergarten (population) doesn’t grow,” Nagle said of the projected enrollment numbers.
In middle schools, where 1.5 education positions are being sought, 147 more pupils are anticipated.
School system administrators are planning for 420 more pupils systemwide next year. Evans and Martinez Elementary schools are likely to see the largest enrollment gains next year, while Grovetown Middle School is expected to lose the most pupils.
The system’s contingency funds also will allow for 10 additional educator hires if necessary, Nagle said.
After the board returned from closed session, trustee Mike Sleeper suggested that the panel revise its voting procedures.
Instead of voting for tentative approval on items at the first meeting of the month, and then giving final approval at the next meeting, Sleeper sought a first and second reading, similar to how county commissioners and city governments vote on matters.
Board attorney Pete Fletcher said school officials can choose either voting method as long as the public has the necessary time to give input.
Nagle asked only that board members continue to give the administration direction before an issue goes for a final vote.
“We’re fine with either way you want to do it,” he said.
Board members will decide later on the suggestion.
Also at the meeting, Sleeper was re-elected as vice chairman, returning Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco and trustee Roxanne Whitaker were sworn in and Fletcher, Harley & Fletcher LLP was reappointed to serve as the board’s legal counsel.