Hamilton County Commissioner Warren Mackey said Thursday he had extended an invitation to the Hamilton County School Board to discuss how commissioners and board members can best communicate regarding their respective responsibilities for the school system.
Mackey's invitation comes two weeks after the commissioner said he would like to see clear communication between the two entities. His comments followed the commission's decision to deny approval for the beginning of an architect selection process for a new East Brainerd Elementary School because of the disappointment with not being presented with a capital improvements plan from education officials.
Mackey said that Superintendent Rick Smith "seemed to be amenable" to the invitation but that board Chairman Mike Evatt wanted to give new board members more time to be "brought up to speed" on issues relating to the board and the commission, which approves the school system's annual budget. Mackey emphasized multiple times that the commission was not intending to be perceived as telling the board how to do their jobs by calling for meetings.
"We're a partner," Mackey said.
Commission Chairman Larry Henry said it would be "important" to see that the meetings be held as soon as possible.
Before holding a routine Finance Committee meeting, commissioners retreated into a closed, private session to discuss legal matters. The group met in closed session for more than one hour.
Henry later declined to acknowledge what the topics of discussion were during the private meeting. Henry did say that none of the topics were related to a current prayer lawsuit the county is embroiled in, which a federal judge described as being "not over" in a ruling denying a preliminary injunction released yesterday.
Thursday's commission meeting was also the first for newly elected District 3 Commissioner Marty Haynes, who replaces Mitch McClure.