Selma School Board looks to the future

Published 12:29 am Sunday, January 31, 2010

Spending half of Saturday discussing a strategic plan and establishing goals for this year and the entire term, members of the Selma City School board and Superintendent Dr. Austin Obasohan attended a Selma City School Board Orientation Retreat.

Working with Luann Bird, director of the Alabama Association of School Boards, the group discussed methods for governing for higher student achievement.

“Your job is to link the community,” Bird said. She reminded the board that the board’s purpose is to uphold student achievement and help foster the growth of the school system.

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Boards that attend training sessions, such as the one held at the Central Office on Saturday, function well because they develop clear roles and responsibilities.

“When a board comes together like this, they can become a high performance team,” Bird said.

This training session, coupled with the training session on Jan. 15 and 16, have this board confident they can discuss the issues of the schools professionally and reach goals more efficiently.

“We believe that through this training, it is going to lead to more positive things,” said Frank Chestnut, District 3 representative. “This is all so we can get off to the right foot.”

Already, Udo Ufomadu, District 4 representative, is enjoying the change of group dynamic with a smaller board.

Ufomadu served on the previous board that consisted of 11 members, compared to the five members currently.

“It’s much easier for us to make decisions,” Ufomadu said.

Listening to five sides of an issue takes less time than allowing 11 people to discuss an issue.

Members shared expectations of Dr. Obasohan, such as transparency, treating members equally and good communication of adequate information.

“I don’t want you to sugar coat it,” said Brenda Randolph-Obomanu, district 2 representative. “I want to know everything I need to know.”

Throughout her campaigning, Randolph-Obomanu heard constituents ask for a change in the running of board, and she is ready “get down to the nitty gritty,” Randolph-Obomanu said. “I like listening to my constituents and coming back and making an informed choice on what I hopefully feel is the right thing for them.”

Dr. Obasohan asked board members to help emphasize the high expectations and accountability of the school system, offer a trusting relationship and listen before making decisions.

President Henry Hicks Sr. has developed short and long-term goals with fellow board members.

In the near future, Hicks and the board want to accomplish the elements set out in their plan for the upcoming year, items such as become a united board, offer every child a great education and reduce the dropout rate.

Longterm, the board is working on building a new Selma High School and improving the facilities of the other schools.

“We have our work cut out for us,” Hicks said. “This term is going to be groundbreaking for us because we only have 2.5 years to accomplish it. We just want to leave it better than we found it.”

Through teamwork, Dr. Obasohan believes the board has the tools to improve the schools.

“I encourage this board to please listen and think what is in the best interest of the children,” Dr. Obasohan said. “I think we can do that and move the system forward.”