North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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March 13, 2014

New Gardendale Board of Education members talk about their task ahead and Common Core

[Editor's note: The comments from members of the Gardendale Board of Education were made before their first organizational meeting on Tuesday night. It was also edited to correct a quote from Chris Segroves involving legal counsel.]

The new Gardendale Board of Education will begin its work with “a clean sheet of paper,” as one of its members puts it.

But it also faces the formidable challenges of starting almost from scratch, as well as a controversial issue that almost every school system in the country is dealing with now.

The five charter members of the board met Tuesday night in an organizational meeting at City Hall. (That meeting took place after press deadlines; see njeffersonnews.com for details.) The four men and one woman won’t be officially sworn in until April 1, but they decided to get a head start on setting the direction for the new school system, which will break away from the Jefferson County Schools.

The North Jefferson News spoke with four of the members earlier this week about what their biggest task is right off the bat, aside from naming a superintendent.

The members were also asked their views on Common Core, the national initiative that was adopted by the Alabama Board of Education, which seeks to establish national standards as to what students should know in core subjects at the end of each grade. It’s an initiative that faces opposition from a number of groups, most of them conservative-leaning; it is the political target of State Sen. Scott Beason (R-Gardendale), who has introduced bills either calling for it to be removed entirely, or for individual school systems to be allowed to opt out.

“We’ve been given the unique opportunity to start with a clean sheet of paper,” said new board member Dick Lee. “I think the greatest challenge we face is coming together as a board and committing ourselves to focus on building a best-in-class school system.”

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