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3 run unopposed for school board

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By The Staff

By DAMON LAWRENCE

rclawrence@bellsouth.net

While some of his counterparts will be out campaigning hard this summer, Rockwood school board member Mike “Brillo” Miller can take it easy with the politicking.

A candidate can do that when he doesn’t have an opponent.

Miller is running unopposed in District 1.

“I’m glad,” Miller said. “I’d rather not have to go out and beat on doors this summer.”

Harriman school board members Darrell “Drack” Langley and Franklin Mee are in the same situation.

Both are running unopposed in District 2.

“I think they feel like we got some good representation in Harriman,” said Langley, when asked why he thought no one else chose to enter the race.

Early voting for the County General Election starts July 18 and ends Aug. 2.

Election Day is Aug. 7.

Although some board members are running unopposed, there’s still the potential for some turnover on the school board.

Incumbents in District 5/6 (Kingston) and District 7 (South of the River) all face challenges to keep their spots.

A total of four seats are in play in those races.

“I think, what would we do if we came back with four new board members with the issues we’ve got laid out before us,” Mee said. “It’ll be interesting to see how these other races turn out.”

Miller, who is also the mayor of Rockwood, is one of the most outspoken members on the school board.

He said he wants the people to know that he’ll continue to vote his conscience, even if his stance is not popular.

“It may not always be what everybody thinks is right, but I’ll vote my conscience and do what I think is right,” Miller said. “Not only for the kids of the district I represent, but kids for the whole county.”

Miller’s penchant for being a maverick showed on the position he took on the school calendar.

He voted no on the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school calendars. Both calendars call for an early August start to the school year.

Miller believes it is too early.

“We always want to make sure that our kids learn and everybody makes that important,” Miller said. “Well, you’re not going to learn if you’re real uncomfortable in your classrooms.”

That was the case for many students and teachers last August.

It was extremely hot and air condition units broke down throughout the school system.

Miller sees the same thing happening again next month.

“No matter how good a job your maintenance department does, when it’s that hot, we’re go-ing to have air condition problems,” Miller said. “We’ll have them this year. That’s just part of it, but I think we can avoid a lot of that if we start school later.”

Mee is not one to mince words, either.

That showed on the strong stance he took last November during a board discussion about a contract extension for Director of Schools Toni McGriff. He opposed the extension.

“I get numerous complaints from her attitude — she’s rude when we call and talk to her to she’s sort of forcing the issues down your throat,” Mee said at the time.

Some board members criticized him for his comments, but Mee said he still has no regrets.

“I know Brillo and Mike Taylor didn’t vote to extend, but for whatever reason they didn’t feel like it was necessary for them to say why they were voting no,” Mee said. “I felt obligated to tell people why I was voting no.”

Langley also has a knack for speaking his mind, even if his position is unpopular.

While the school board and the county contemplates building new schools as a solution to its overcrowding problem, little has been said about redistricting.

When redistricting does come up, some have said it won’t work while others have dismissed it as a red herring.

Langley said redistricting has merit.

“I think that would help overcrowding,” Langley said. “Then once you get your overcrowding fixed, you would know how much facilities you would have to have.”