The president of the Covington County school board has resigned because he could not advance a plan to reconstruct and consolidate the Covington County School District at a March 24 special called meeting at Mount Olive High School.
Lynn Smith did not receive a second for his motion endorsing a plan offered by school superintendent Babette Duty. The lack of a second stopped action and the plan failed. Smith, who represented District 1, left the hearing and submitted his resignation the next day, effective immediately.
Smith was the only board member who supported Duty’s plan, which would have closed Mount Olive High School and Hopewell Elementary School as a means of saving money and relieving the current teacher shortage. The plan called for creating an educational center at Carver Middle school to house the district’s gifted and alternative programs, and for students to receive more balanced opportunities in both academic and athletic offerings.
In his resignation letter, Smith advised school board members to make changes now, saying they have been advised to expect budget constraints and declining statewide accountability performance results in the future. Members of the school board heard from displeased citizens and government officials during the public comment section of the meeting.
Smith released a statement following his resignation, in which he described Duty’s plan as a “win-win” that would have saved $7-10 million in the next five years and eliminated 24 vacant teacher positions while protecting the jobs of all current faculty and staff. Also, he said it would have served as the first phase in consolidating the Collins, Seminary and Mt. Olive high schools.
According to Smith, the board’s inaction will delay any attempts at consolidation for another two – five years, time that he says the district does not have.
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