Senators led by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), have introduced a bill by which Supreme Court justices can be disqualified, or otherwise punished, based on a yet-to-be-crafted and fluid “code of conduct.”
Dubbed the “Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency Act of 2023,” S. 359 says its intent is “To amend title 28, United States Code, to provide for a code of conduct for justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, and for other purposes.”
S. 359 would require the Supreme Court to establish a subjective code of conduct for justices and law clerks and set disclosure requirements for gifts, travel, and income received by them.
Additionally, the bill would also require the Court to establish procedures for anyone who wishes to file ethics complaints against justices and for the adjudication of those complaints by a panel of circuit court judges.
Not only does the bill mandate a code of “conduct,” which would be highly subject to interpretation, it also gives the reining Supreme Court and Judicial Conference the ability to modify what constitutes proper conduct, as they see fit:
SEC. 2. Code of conduct for the Supreme Court of the United States.
“SECTION 365. Codes of conduct
“(a) Justices.—Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this section, the Supreme Court of the United States shall, after appropriate public notice and opportunity for comment in accordance with section 2071, issue a code of conduct for the justices of the Supreme Court.
“(b) Other judges.—Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this section, the Judicial Conference of the United States shall, after appropriate public notice and opportunity for comment in accordance with section 2071, issue a code of conduct for the judges of the courts of appeals, the district courts (including bankruptcy judges and magistrate judges), and the Court of International Trade.
“(c) Modification.—The Supreme Court of the United States and the Judicial Conference may modify the applicable codes of conduct under this section after giving appropriate public notice and opportunity for comment in accordance with section 2071.”
Individuals would be able to file complaints against justices alleging, not just that they violated the actual code of conduct, but also if the complainant believes the justice “has otherwise engaged in conduct that undermines the integrity of the Supreme Court of the United States.”
“Upon receipt or identification of a complaint under subsection (a), the Supreme Court of the United States shall refer such complaint to a judicial investigation panel, which shall be composed of a panel of 5 judges selected randomly from among the chief judge of each circuit of the United States,” the bill says.
If the justice’s conduct is found wanting, the panel can then “present to the Supreme Court of the United States any findings and recommendations for necessary and appropriate action by the Supreme Court, including dismissal of the complaint, disciplinary actions, or changes to Supreme Court rules or procedures.”
S. 359 also gives the panel subpoena power and enables it to launch a lengthy, full-blown inquisition, complete with hearings and sworn testimony:
“(3) POWERS.—In conducting any investigation under this section, the judicial investigation panel may hold hearings, take sworn testimony, issue subpoenas ad testificandum and subpoenas duces tecum, and make necessary and appropriate orders in the exercise of its authority.”
In particular, the process may be used to disqualify a judge from a particular proceeding:
“(a) Motion for disqualification.—If a justice, judge, magistrate judge, or bankruptcy judge of the United States is required to be disqualified from a proceeding under any provision of Federal law, a party to the proceeding may file a timely motion for disqualification, accompanied by a certificate of good faith and an affidavit alleging facts sufficient to show that disqualification of the justice, judge, magistrate judge, or bankruptcy judge is so required.”
The bill was introduced by the following Senators:
A code of conduct is merely one person's interpretation of what they believe to be correct. Amazingly there are even people who disagree with the Ten Commandments while there are others who vehemently abide by it. It is not the Code that matters, it is the person defining the Code that will matter. This is exactly why the Founding Fathers created the Constitution and the Separation of Powers.
The Separation of Powers is the only vessel that allows for the necessary checks and balances within our Governmental Structure. When the law enforcement agencies are under the biding of the Executive Branch and the Ethics Commission is controlled by the Legislative branch, the only entity to confirm Constitutional Actions or Omissions is the Judicial Branch. To allow one branch to determine the "Code of Conduct" for another is to erode the separation that allows the check and balance.
Very few people like to be told what they are doing is wrong, especially "Rich Men North of Richmond," but that does not invalidate the fact that it is indeed incorrect. Truthfully, the mere introduction of the bill illustrates the need for the Separation of Powers to Check and Balance improper encroachments upon the Rights and Systems established by our founding documents. If one branch of Government controls another branch of government, then ultimately there will only be one government - and they shall be called King.
May God Bless You, Your Business, and this Country,
I decided to run for Georgetown City Council in the November 7th election because I want to make a difference in the town I’ve lived my whole life.
I’m certainly not a politician. I’m someone who cares deeply about the direction of Georgetown and wants to do something about it.
Ever increasing utility rates and taxes, deteriorating roads and drainage, a very high poverty rate, and a lack of high paying jobs are causing many families to leave Georgetown. These are issues that must be tackled.
I’ve already hit the campaign trail and have been working hard to earn votes the old-fashioned way – one at a time by knocking on doors and personally asking for votes.
I’ve already knocked on hundreds of doors and I’m going to continue going through city neighborhoods one home at a time through Election Day.
But for a Republican candidate to win, it’s going to take more than just knocking on doors, particularly in a city where the majority of voters are Democrat leaning. It’s going to take a lot of money for mailers, signs, flyers, social media, ads, and much more.
I hate to ask for money, but I need your help today.
Please donate as much as you can to my campaign by clicking on this link or mailing a check to: Erin Ethridge for City Council, 2427 Withers Street, Georgetown, SC 29440. Individuals and businesses can donate up to $1,000.00 each.
To ensure my campaign is as effective and cost efficient as possible, I’ve joined with fellow Republican City Council candidate Bruce Carl in a “Vote For Two” campaign.
State law allows voters to cast votes for up to three candidates for City Council, however our joint campaign highlights that the best way to ensure that Bruce and I win is to vote for just the two Republicans and not cast a third vote, which will automatically go to a Democrat and help them beat us.
Any money you donate will go to just my campaign and its share of the Vote For Two joint campaign.
If you’d also like to donate to Bruce Carl’s campaign, please click here.
I want to make Georgetown a thriving city – one that’s a better, more affordable place to live, work, and play.
I ask for your help. Thank you in advance!
Probate Court is a very special place and its value to the community is often misunderstood. There is great intricacy to the matters before this Court which operates within the South Carolina Judicial System. Further adding to its complexity is the many governmental and non-governmental offices/agencies that routinely intersect with the Probate Court.
The goal of this article is to inform you about the activities of Probate Court. The challenge in presenting, especially in writing, the many and varied activities of the Probate Court is balancing the level of detail that accurately reflects the work of this office, but also keeps the reader engaged. This article includes a short look at the subject matters assigned to South Carolina Probate Courts, which are defined by South Carolina Law.
This office is divided by four (4) broad categories that are generally defined as follows: Estate Division, Protective Court Division, Therapeutic Court Division and Marriage License Division. Set forth below is a more detailed look at these divisions and the activities within the jurisdiction granted to Probate Courts.
The Estate Division addresses matters coming before the Court related to the estate of a deceased person.
This includes the probate of wills, any challenges to a will, and the interpretation of a will. It also includes the oversight of any administration of an estate including the appointment of a personal representative and the transfer of the assets. The following issues are routinely before the Court: what property belongs in an estate, who the heirs and/or successors of the property should be pursuant to the will and intestacy laws. This area of the Court provides for both an informal process and a formal process. The informal process is routinely used when there is not a dispute. The formal process requires a Summons and Petition like seen in litigation used in other Courts.
Within the Protective Court Division are matters related to Guardianships, Conservatorships and Trusts.
A Guardian can be appointed for an adult who is not able to make decisions on their own (i.e., where they will live, what medical treatments they will receive, who will take care of them, etc.) due to some form of incapacity. Similarly, a Conservator is appointed to make decisions about their assets. Conservatorships are also appointed for minors who will receive assets totaling more than Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000.00) annually. The Court determines who is appropriate to serve as Guardian and/or Conservator, the level of incapacity for an adult, any limits/restrictions to the constitutional rights being removed from an incapacitated adult and what rights are vested with the appointed fiduciary. Interpretations, application, validity and abuse of a Power of Attorney can also be at issue in this Division of the Court. These matters often span the lifetime of an individual and remain subject to Court oversight. The Court reviews the collection and management of assets subject to the Conservatorship including any anticipated expenditures for the duration of the appointment. Formal litigation regarding Trust falls within this division and include the dissolution of a trust, appointment of a successor trustee, interpretation and enforcement of a trust.
Involuntary Commitments for mental illness, intellectual disability, substance abuse and Tuberculosis patients are assigned to the Therapeutic Court Division.
If a person is a danger to themselves or others and is in need of treatment, the Probate Court can order them to inpatient and/or outpatient treatment.
The Marriage License Division is tasked with the obvious.
Specifically, this Division oversees the application for a marriage license, the issuance of the license and the recording of the certified marriage record.
Other miscellaneous matters that routinely come before the Probate Court are: Approval of Wrongful Death and/or Survival Settlements; Approval of Settlements involving minors under Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars ($25,000.00); Determinations necessary for gifts made pursuant to the South Carolina Uniform Gifts to Minors Act; Actions to sell or partition real estate in connection with an estate, trust, guardianship and conservatorship action pending before it; Actions to determine paternity, common-law marriage, and interpretation of marital agreements in connection with an estate, trust, guardianship, and conservatorship action pending before it;
Additional understanding about the reach and impact of this Office can be seen when considering the number of governmental and non-governmental offices that routinely intersect with Probate Court. Probate records are used to help establish ownership of property and the authority to act on behalf of another or their estate. The Register of Deeds office, Auditor’s office, Treasurer’s office, realtors and others involved with land transactions are all impacted by this information. The transfer of other property including titled assets, financial assets, and businesses (LLC interest, etc.) intersect with the Department of Motor Vehicles (i.e., automobiles, mobile homes, etc.), Department of Natural Resources (i.e., boats, motors, etc.) and Financial Institutions (i.e. access to safe deposit boxes, accounts, etc.). Decisions concerning cremation and funeral arrangements can create an intersection between Probate Court, the Coroner’s office and funeral homes. The Therapeutic Division requires coordinated efforts between the Sherriff’s Office, Detention Center, local hospitals, local Mental Health Centers, local Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission, private treatment providers, State Department of Mental Health, State Department of Special Needs and Services, Department of Social Services, Solicitor’s Office and various private/non-profit businesses offering services to these individuals. The bonding or other suitable security requirements necessary for appointment of a person acting in a fiduciary capacity, create an intersection with insurance companies, banks and in some cases the Register of Deeds (where a mortgage in lieu of bond is used). Additionally, this Court intersects with other Courts in and outside of this jurisdiction.
This Court must stay up-to date with not only the matters impacting Probate Court, but also the other businesses/agencies it intersects with. We are often expected to guide the public through some of the most difficult challenges they will face in life. We provide information to these individuals, but we do not provide legal advice. As a public office, we try to be helpful while ensuring our responsibilities as a Court are kept.
Just over six months officially on the job…the time is flying!
The first half of this year has been a blur – I know we're only getting started. The joy and purpose I feel as I head in to work every day is a gift.
I am committed to stewarding this amazing calling with a strong sense of urgency – our children are counting on us.
We know we face big challenges…but I’ve seen first-hand that there are even bigger opportunities to seize.
In fact, I’m pleased to report that the 2023 legislative session saw unprecedented progress for South Carolina students, teachers, and parents:
And this is just scratching the surface of all that is happening!
When I ran, I promised you that I’d give my all to fight for every South Carolina student to have the opportunity to reach their full, God-given potential. By God’s grace, that promise is being kept, and we are making progress every single day.
Thank you for standing with me in this generational work.
My very best,
Ellen Weaver | State Superintendent of Education
It’s been 18 months since the historic swearing in of Georgetown’s first Republican majority-led Council. At the time, we knew we had our work cut out for us but soon found just how bad things were. Decades of neglect had left the city’s finances in shambles.
Approximately half of the city’s budget is its utility business. The city provides electricity, sanitary sewer, water and storm services. These services, including trash pick up, comprise our Enterprise Fund.
Statute dictates the fund be run as a business, meaning fees should offset costs. However, when we took office we found fees for some services had not been increased in decades resulting in an operating loss in FY 2022 of over $1.3M. This deficit was left to be made up by our General Fund which goes against all rules and was jeopardizing $12M in bonds secured by the Enterprise funds.
Mayor Carol Jayroe and the Republican-led council immediately embarked on a series of audits to establish a recovery plan. We had to not only meet expenses but also needed to develop a reserve fund to pay for long-neglected maintenance of our utility systems. Equally important, we needed to find a way to provide pay increases to long-ignored employees who were leaving for better pay.
I’m proud to report that through FY2023 all utilities met their expenses except storm water which still showed a shortfall, albeit dramatically less than the prior year. On an aggregate basis, the Enterprise Fund has a positive cash flow for the first time in years and is now funding a badly depleted reserve account.
The decision to raise rates was a tough one but the potential to have our bonds called and utility business taken away was not an option. All it took was leadership not afraid to make hard decisions and to run the city like a business. Something our Democratic naysayers felt wasn’t a requirement to be good stewards of our great city.
I’m proud to report the FY2024 budget includes an increase of less than 4% over FY2023 which is less than one half of of the inflation rate. Even with that small increase, we are still meeting obligations for growth, providing pay raises and building reserves.
With many more immediate challenges facing us, we are not out of the woods yet, but notice has been given that the Republican-majority council will do what it takes to secure Georgetown’s future. We will provide leadership founded in solid business practices and a clear recognition of our fiduciary obligation to our citizens.
In the budget bill I was able to gain the support of my colleagues and the Governor for funding a number of important District needs.
One of those is the dredging of Murrells Inlet channels, many of which are no longer navigable and impede the water flow needed for a healthy estuary.
The budget bill appropriates $10 million for inlet dredging which, combined with prior budget bill appropriations, means that over $14 million is now available for the dredging project.
Here are some of the other appropriations for the District included in the budget:
We set an ambitious agenda for the session that included improving statewide economic development, reforming our education system, implementing fiscal discipline, increasing personal freedom, and prioritizing public safety and made meaningful progress towards achieving our goals.
On June 14th, I was honored to be appointed by House Speaker Murrell Smith to the Land Development Study Committee, which is tasked with examining current and prospective ways to manage land development.
I’m honored to represent District 108 in the House. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.
Rep. Lee Hewitt
I appreciate the opportunity to reach out to the citizens of Georgetown County to give a quick update on what’s been going on here in the office. We are currently gearing up for tax season 2023! I know that makes everyone happy…well it should! We as citizens of Georgetown County and the state of South Carolina have some of the lowest tax rates in the country, due to exemptions and credits that are offered. I want to use the next few paragraphs to highlight them and share with you how to apply for them. I would first like to talk about real estate exemptions and credits that you may qualify for.
The first exemption is for 100% VA disabled veterans. Once approved by the SC Dept. of Revenue the veteran will be exempt from all taxes on his/her primary residence and 2 vehicles. The approval letter can be brought down to the office to receive any refund for taxes paid for the approval start year. And Thank You All who have served this great country!
Another “credit” is Legal Residence this is applied to all real estate that qualifies as a primary residence in South Carolina In order to receive this credit you must be a resident of South Carolina, and the property must be in your name(s), a single member LLC, life estate, or trust. This credit is applied for the Assessor’s office. You must apply and need South Carolina driver’s licenses, and registrations for your vehicles, at the residence you are applying for. This changes your tax ratio from 6 to 4 percent and exempts the school operating tax from your notice. A person that is approved for legal residence pays about a third of what a non-resident pays.
Homestead exemption is an exemption that exempts the 1st $50,000 of a property that is considered a legal residence for homeowners 65 and older, 100 percent disabled, or considered legally blind by a licensed ophthalmologist. There is a list of documents that are required by state law that can be found on my website www.gtcounty.org/428 . This exemption is reimbursed to the county by the state of South Carolina and needs to be reported to them. This is why the documents are required. There are also some personal property exemptions that are available for residence and non-residence as well.
High mileage is a reduction due to the excessive mileage that causes the vehicle to be valued at a lower amount. Another personal property exemption is the 6% ratio for certain boats and campers/travel trailers. If your boat or your recreational vehicle has a head (bathroom), bed, and galley (kitchen) you can lower your ratio from 10.5% to 6%. Once you apply for this exemption you will not need to apply again, we will adjust your ratio every year. There is no limit to how many 2nd homes you have, you can apply for all your recreational vehicles that meet the requirements. All information on exemptions and credits are located on my website. www.gtcounty.org/279
Please contact my office to see if you are already receiving these exemptions or credits, and if not, hopefully we can get you qualified. Remember, I work for you! I promise if you have a question about how or why you are taxed on property in Georgetown County, I will answer your questions. In the end sometimes the answer is not always the one you may want to hear, but it will always follow the laws of South Carolina, and the ordinances of Georgetown County. Please feel free to reach out to my office anytime, should you have questions or concerns. Thank you for the opportunity to serve.
Ken Baker Georgetown County Auditor
Georgetown County Auditor
Convention of States is a grassroots movement with over 3 million volunteers across 50 states working hard to save our Republic using Article V of the Constitution. This group was founded by Mark Meckler and Mike Ferris in 2013 about the same time Mark Levin, a good friend of the group, published the Liberty Amendments.
On September 15,1787, George Mason of Virginia (referred to in Madison’s notes as Col Mason), was alarmed that in the text of Article V (the provision for making Amendments to the Constitution), Congress would have sole power to propose amendments; Mason insisted, as he did earlier in June, that the states have authority to call for conventions.
Article V: Amendment
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary,shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for
proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof,
as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
This modification to Article V passed unanimously with no debate since our forefathers realized that the power of the Federal Government may expand and the states needed a mechanism to keep it in check.
Convention of States proposes the following resolutions:
Impose Terms Limits on Congress and Other Federal Officials
Impose Fiscal restraints on the Federal Government
Rein-in the Federal overreach and bring departments back to the states
In order to call a Convention, 34 states must adopt our resolutions . We currently have 19 States that have done this and we have active legislation in almost every state.
Once 34 states have adopted the resolutions, a Convention is called. Each of the 50 states may send Commissioners. The Commissioners are selected by the State Legislature and they impose rules and restrictions on the Commissioners regarding the scope of their authority. The Convention is where the actual content of the Amendment(s) is determined and worded. Once the Commissioners are satisfied which an Amendment is it read to the whole group and voted on. Each state is allowed one vote per amendment (according to the rules of the Convention).
The Amendment passes by a simple majority and is then sent to each state for ratification. When the amendment is ratified by 38 States, it becomes an Amendment to the Constitution.
Convention of States Volunteers are very active. We spread the word by speaking to our friends and neighbors and asking them to sign our petition. We offer to speak at various gatherings and explain our mission, we set up tables at gun shows, festivals etc. We call, email and write notes to our legislators and show up at the state house in great numbers when our bill is being discussed or presented. We go to rallies in other states to support their efforts to get the resolutions passed. Mark Meckler and Mike Ferris travel extensively to be there to support our grassroots in their legislative presentations.
We have a wealth of information available on our website www.conventionofstates.com and provide webinars and workshops online to our volunteers. We ask that our volunteers be knowledgeable about COS, the process and our goals. We encourage our volunteers to be respectful and polite to people they approach, whether they are neighbors or legislators.
August 2-4, 2023, Convention of States will host a simulated Convention in Colonial Williamsburg similar to the one they hosted a few years ago.
303 Hazard Street
New flood insurance rate maps from FEMA went into effect this month, meaning some residents may see changes to their home insurance rates. Residents whose homes were moved into special flood hazard areas on the new maps may see rates rise significantly, while those whose homes came out of flood zones may see lower insurance rates.
The changes went into effect May 9. It is the first time the maps have been updated since 1989.
“It was definitely overdue,” said Steven Elliott, Building Official for Georgetown County. “We’re the last county in the state to adopt the new maps. I think they’re going to be a lot more accurate than what we had previously.”
He adds that these maps are federally created and the federal government requires the county to adopt them.
For the average person, the details of the new maps, the new criteria used for determining property elevations and what all this means for property owners is extremely complicated. Luckily, staff in the building department is here to help.
“If individuals have no intentions of doing any improvements to their houses or commercial structures on their properties, there’s really nothing for them to do at this point,” Elliott explained. “Those individuals who have mortgages on properties that are transitioning into a flood zone, I’m sure they’ll be getting a letter from their mortgage company requesting that they carry flood insurance.”
Flood insurance is a requirement for properties in certain flood zones. It can be very pricy depending on the zone. In these instances where properties are transitioning into flood hazard areas, Elliott said it may benefit property owners to hire a surveyor to create an elevation certificate. While the insurance industry does not use elevation certificates to determine risk when writing flood insurance policies, Elliott said he has spoken to insurance agents who confirm that a current elevation certificate can help lower rates – but only if it exhibits the property’s situation is better than the insurance agency previously deemed.
“As far as your risk, it could lower your premiums if you submit that elevation certificate to the company. But I would caution people to make sure it’s going to benefit you before you just provide that information,” Elliott said.
The new maps also introduced a new zone: Coastal A, which comes with more restrictive building requirements. Georgetown County requested a variance from the State Building Codes Council that would allow it to not recognize the new zone and enforce those more restrictive measures. The request was denied on a 10-1 vote on May 23.
The county is currently working with a company to help set up an online hub where residents can access the new maps in a format that will help to better explain changes for their property under the new criteria. The county will also upload some of the elevation certificates it currently has on file to better assist property owners. A link will be provided when the hub is ready.
“We’re trying to get as much information out as we can, but it will still be really useful for people to actually see a flood map and information just for their property,” Elliott said. “Until that’s ready though, you can still go onto the county’s website, to the GIS maps and use the drop-down menus. Sometimes those can be a little difficult to interpret though, depending on what features you have turned on.”
He said residents who have questions or need additional help interpreting the GIS maps are always welcome to contact the Georgetown County Building Department for assistance. The main phone number for the department is (843) 545-3116.
“If you don’t plan to do any improvements to your home, but you’re just interested in knowing what’s happening, give us a call or look it up on the GIS map. But if you’re planning to do some improvements, the best thing to do would probably be to come in and sit down in the office with us and look at the maps,” Elliott said.
If there's something I missed and/or you have any concerns, please feel free to contact me directly.
We passed out three bills, one of which, H. 3072, I sponsored that protects the four percent property tax assessment rate after a property owner dies until the decedent's estate is closed, upon the recording of a deed or deed of distribution out of the estate, or after December 31st of the year following the date of death, whichever occurs first, which I think is only fair.
Last week we passed landmark legislation that will ensure parents have more options and choices about how their children are educated.
S. 039, which establishes the Education Scholarship Trust Fund, will provide eligible elementary and secondary students from low income families with scholarships to cover their education expenses at the school of their choice -- expenses such as tuition and fees, instructional materials, tutoring, computer hardware, assessments, and transportation. These scholarships will be funded directly from the state budget, meaning no money is being directly taken from the current K-12 education budget or from existing public schools.
These scholarships are a critical step towards creating a more equitable education system in South Carolina as it recognizes the importance of school choice for families and gives every student an opportunity to succeed.
On Wednesday, we passed H. 3583, a bill that specifically targets the use of sexually explicit images or videos to extort money, sexual favors, or other benefits from a victim. South Carolina is now the 19th state to have its own laws against this type of cybercrime, which is an important step in protecting our citizens and deterring potential offenders.
The passing of this bill is particularly meaningful because one of my colleagues, Rep. Brandon Guffey, R-York, recently lost his son to this senseless crime. His tragic loss highlights the urgent need for this legislation, which will provide recourse for victims and send a strong message that sexual exploitation in any form is a serious crime that will not be tolerated.
I hope you’ll consider participating in “Palmetto Giving Day” this Tuesday and Wednesday, May 2-3. The Frances P. Bunnelle Foundation organizes this annual thirty-six hour online giving event that benefits nonprofit organizations in Georgetown County. Many of these organizations have matching donation opportunities during this event that will essentially double your donation.
For more information about Palmetto Giving Day and to make donations please visit PalmettoGiving Day.org.
Have a good week. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.
Rep. Lee Hewitt
As a recently elected GCSD Board Member, who was also endorsed by the County’s Republican Party, I thought you might appreciate an update on my first 5 months on the Board.
First off, I am very impressed with this newly constituted Board. This in an action-oriented Board that asks a lot of questions, does research regarding decisions we’re asked to make, and does not “Rubber Stamp” proposals. The composition of this Board is also a dramatic change from the previous board. All 3 of the new Board members elected in November, 2022 ( DuBose, Cox, Moore) are from outside the school system, not retirees from the GCSD.
The new Board now has 6 non-GCSD members and 3 GCSD retirees. And the 3 GCSD retirees bring a lot of institutional knowledge and provide important perspectives. One of those is Bill Gaskins (elected to the Board in 2020) who the new Board unanimously elected as Chairman. Bill has been like the Energizer Bunny since taking over, visiting schools (as have the other Board Members) and initiating meeting after meeting with Board members and other constituents. The focus of those meetings has primarily been one of asking a lot of questions, collecting data, and listening to input. One major step forward was Chairman Gaskins arranging a series of “Teacher Forums” between Board Members and Teachers. The turnout from teachers was impressive, and the feedback from teachers since has been very positive--that they feel they have been given a voice, are being listened to, and that they can see the Board is taking action based on their input.
Board Members have also been receiving input from Parents and others in the community. While I cannot get into specifics, I can say that at least one long-standing, festering multi-parent complaint has been addressed and successfully resolved to those parents’ satisfaction. Other more recent issues have also been addressed.
Two current major items before the Board are: 1) raising coaching salaries to be more competitive with surrounding counties, and 2) development of a revised School Behavior and Discipline Policy that is much more explicit, strict and provides more accountability.
For me personally (and I am not alone) one big issue is gaining a solid understanding of all the ins-and outs of the many Federal, State and local revenue sources that flow into the GCSD. It is very complicated, often confusing, and much of the funding has restricted uses mandated by the Feds and State, so the Board has limits on how some dollars can be spent. I have requested, and will soon receive, along with other Board Members, a lengthy, detailed briefing and Q&A by GCSD Finance (separate from a typical, public highlight presentation to the Board) on how it all comes together and where the money goes. This should greatly assist decision-making on Budgeting proposals the Board is asked to make.
And, in closing, a word about our School Superintendent, Keith Price, new since 2020 I have been impressed with Mr. Price’s intellect, character and honest attempts to do “the Right Thing.” He is involved with the Board, very open, and a good listener. He is also action-oriented and not afraid to innovate. While some of his newer initiatives are as yet untested, they appear to me to be well-intentioned efforts to improve the school system and academic results for our children. Time will tell.
I will provide a future update as things progress.
District 2 School Board Member