Richardson takes reins on city BOE

By Thomas Wilson
star staff
twilson@starhq.com

  Remove the vice from Judy Richardson's title on the Elizabethton Board of Education.
  Richardson was elevated to school board chairwoman at Thursday night's meeting.
  "I am very excited about it," Richardson said after the meeting. "I think it went really well; everybody had their say.
  "I look forward to board cohesiveness."
  Richardson was re-elected to her second board term in the city election on Nov. 2 along with now former chairman, Dr. Bob Sams, and new board member Matthew Cooter. She has been vice chair since 2000 under Sams' reign as board chairman.
  Richardson was nominated by board member Bob Berry and received a second from Sams. Berry was subsequently nominated by Sams to serve as vice chairman in a motion that was seconded by Richardson. Berry won the vice chairman's post by a 5-0 vote.
  In other business, the board selected Thomas Banks of Banks and Banks law firm in Elizabethton as the board's new legal counsel.
  Unlike previous years, the board did not solicit requests for a board attorney. Richardson produced a letter sent by Banks to now former board Chairman Dr. Bob Sams indicating his interest in the attorney position for the board. She said the board opted not to solicit for the position given the lack of interest shown by local law firms in recent years.
  Although ultimately voting for Banks, Cooter and Bob Berry voiced concern about making the selection without a bid process.
  "You have one choice, and it's not really a choice," said Cooter.
  The system sent out approximately 30 requests for bid proposals to attorneys inside and outside Carter County last year and received three responses. School Superintendent Dr. David Roper said after the meeting the board did not request he solicit bids for the attorney's position.
  "I don't like the way this is going down," said Berry.
  Lattier had served as the board's attorney during the late 1990s into 2002. Banks was one of the candidates along with Lattier and Richard Gray who submitted proposals to become the board's counsel in October 2003. The board voted then to award Lattier a one-year contract, which expired on Nov. 6.
  Banks' proposal requested a monthly retainer of $1,250 plus an hourly rate of $125 for any additional legal work conducted on behalf of the board.
  In other business, Roper talked up the school system's results on the Education Report Card 2004 released last week by the Tennessee Department of Education. The system's five schools met all federal benchmarks required under No Child Left Behind regulations.
  The system's K-8 grade students posted grades of A in math and reading, and B grades for social studies and science. On Gateway exams, city high school students scored 91 percent proficient or advanced in math, 99 percent on science and 95 percent in English. Student scores in math and English rose from 88 percent and 92 percent, respectively.
  "That is a testimony to the great, professional work done by administration and staff at our schools," Roper said.