2008-09-10 / Front Page

School board has new chair

By SCOTT POWELL Ledger Staff Writer spowell@gaffneyledger.com

BILLY BLACKWELL BILLY BLACKWELL School trustees selected Billy Blackwell as board chairman Monday in one of several close votes for new officers.

Blackwell replaces Donnie Lee Smith, who was board chairman for a year. School trustees recently decided to return to choosing new board officers every two years in connection with school elections.

Both the chairman and secretary were elected by school trustees on 5-4 votes.

Donnie Lee Smith, Willie Crosby, Mike Ellis, and Barry Bailey voted against Blackwell. They had supported Smith's nomination to serve a second term as board chairman.

Knowles received five votes, including her own, to be elected secretary.

School trustees voted 6-3 for Smith to serve as vice chairman. Bailey, Smith and Crosby opposed the move.

State Sen. Harvey Peeler (RGaffney) was present on his 60th birthday to swear in the five newly elected school board members. Peeler is chairman of the Senate education subcommittee.

"I firmly believe that in the next four years, you will see more changes to better education in this state than in the last 40 years in funding, accountability and transparency," Peeler said.

Peeler made the remark before he gave the oath of office to new board members Cheryll Smith and Jamie Martin. Blackwell, Donnie Lee Smith and Willie Crosby returned to the school board after winning re-election to a four-year term in August.

Blackwell thanked school trustees for their support. Married with two children, he has worked at BMW Manufacturing for 14 years.

Blackwell said he has enjoyed serving on the school board and would like to help continue the progress the school district has made over the past four years.

"I will do the best job I can as chairman," Blackwell said. "The main thing I want to see is us all get along."

Blackwell, who was unopposed in winning re-election to his second term on the school board, asked school trustees for their preference regarding serving on school board committees. He said the committee assignments will be announced soon.

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