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26 December 2012

These Aren't Your Mother's Bibb County Schools

Since I first wrote about the Bibb County School System, several days ago, readers of Georgia Politics Unfiltered have emailed to say these aren't your mother's Bibb County Schools anymore.

The readers say Bibb County changed. And I don't doubt that. In forty-eight years, it is inevitable that some sort of transformation occurred in the central Georgia county. I've learned over the years, however, that not all change is good change.

The Bibb County School System sees itself mired in controversy these days as an internal audit showed that a board member regularly interfered in the school system's day-to-day operations; from "attempting to aid a vendor," Blue Bird Bus Company, in securing a contract with the school system to getting involved in the hiring of Bibb County Schools employees. The same audit questions whether open meeting laws were violated in 2010.

Another, separate audit of the school system's finance department resulted in Chief Financial Officer Ron Collier being transferred from CFO to Director of Capital Assets and Contracts. Collier is now suing Bibb County Schools, claiming his demotion came about because he refused to write a million dollar check to the Central Georgia Partnership for Individual & Community Development, a non-profit organization.

All this coupled together with other issues gives the perception that Bibb County Schools are in disarray. And unfortunately, a school system in turmoil raises the specter that officials with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) might come in and place the county on probation or worse, revoke Bibb County's accreditation altogether.

It is imperative that adults, from community activists to elected officials, recognize their actions affect the kids. Instead of squabbling among themselves, the adults in Bibb County need to refocus their attention on the children matriculating through their schools.