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

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Lee, who is executive vice president and chief credit officer for Peoples Bank of Alabama/Generations Bank, is grateful for what he calls the “financial resources and non-financial resources” the people of Gardendale have entrusted to the new city school board.

“We ought to be bold in our vision and creative in our thinking,” Lee said. “If we do that as a board, and if the community support is there, we can truly build a best-in-class system.”

Lee said he keeps coming back to the phrase “best in class” to describe the Gardendale City School System because that is exactly what he envisions.

Two things have impressed Lee so far in the school board’s infancy: The Gardendale City Council’s commitment to the school system, and the support of the Gardendale community.

Community support includes the passage of an additional 5-mill property tax to financially support the four Gardendale schools, as well as people who have approached Lee and the other board members to express their support.

As for Common Core, Lee said he does not have enough information yet to form an educated opinion.

“It will be a big issue for us,” he said. “It’s like a lot of other things we will face; we will have to keep an open and creative mind.”

Chris Lucas, a senior vice president and a compliance officer with BBVA Compass, shares much the same opinion of Common Core at the moment — there’s still much to learn about the controversial initiative.

“I think there’s advantages to the idea of having a common system that everyone is held accountable to,” Lucas said. “At the end of the day, if Sen. Beason’s bill gets passed, we’ll take a look at it. But, there’s really two advantages to our system — we have a better-funded system, and we have local control that equates to better flexibility. That would apply to this issue — if we have the flexibility to go with Common Core or not, it’s something we would look at.”

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