Columbia County's school trustees this past week started laying the groundwork for their annual evaluation of Superintendent Tommy Price's job performance.
You'll notice the discussion wasn't accompanied by the same sort of drama as that surrounding the evaluation of Richmond County School Superintendent Charles Larke, who has been under the school board's secret microscope.
But there's another big difference, too: Columbia County trustees actually discuss Price's evaluation. Richmond County board members won't talk about theirs.
One of the absolute worst exclusions of Georgia's Open Records law is that superintendent evaluations are secret. It wasn't so long ago that most superintendents received a very public review every four years when they had to run for re-election, but an amendment to the state constitution changed all superintendents to appointed positions.
Columbia County, which apparently had a much better record of electing its school leaders, voted against that amendment - but the rest of the state passed it.
Well, fine; so the elected school board hires the superintendent. A useful compromise would still allow the public to review the superintendent's job evaluation.
Instead, we have the worst of both worlds: The superintendent isn't accountable to voters, and his job evaluation is kept secret from them, too - even though they pay his salary.
Fortunately, Columbia County's trustees this past year were a little more forthcoming. Just because the review can be kept secret doesn't mean it has to be, and the school board in 2005 did a good job of providing at least a glance at their results.
With Price again up for review soon, it would be good if trustees build on that precedent to make the entire process as transparent as possible. While they're at it, they can continue to set a good example for those folks next door.
Get 'em fresh
I'm dangerously close to overdosing on strawberries, and it's Frank Buck's fault.
Frank retired from The Chronicle's production department, and each spring sets up a produce stand at North Belair and Furys Ferry Road. As the seasons progress, he sells strawberries, then tomatoes, then peaches from Bell's Farms in North Augusta.
Because of the mild winter, the strawberries have been ready for a couple of weeks. But Frank's been busy working as a security guard at a certain golf club, and had to wait until after their annual tournament to set up his fruit stand Monday.
Frank has always set up in the parking lot of Tracker Jack's, but the old building will be flattened soon to make way for a Wifesaver restaurant. He's not sure where he'll be next year.
But we'll find him. I'll need my fix.
Starks jumping in
The political season usually includes a surprise or two. This season just got its first one when Alvin Starks filed notice of his intent to run for the County Commission chairmanship.
Starks, the former Republican Party chairman, joins incumbent Ron Cross and Cross' opponent from four years ago, Andy Kingery, in the race.
A familiar name is listed as Starks' campaign chairman, too: Bob Beckham, a former state representative in Richmond County and well-traveled political warhorse in Columbia County.
Since losing the GOP chairmanship to Lee Muns three years ago, Starks has kept a very low profile. That could dramatically change next week when he hands his qualifying check to Muns.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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