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Partisan no more?

Georgia's next superintendent of schools might not be a Democrat or a Republican if state legislators agree with a recommendation made by the current chief, Linda C. Schrenko.

Linda C. Schrenko

Ms. Schrenko, who is beginning her second four-year term, said during a Jan. 8 meeting with more than 150 local school superintendents that making the post nonpartisan would shift attention away from politics and toward student achievement.

A Republican who was elected in an upset in 1994, Ms. Schrenko herself had numerous clashes in her first term with members of the state school board, most of whom were appointed by then-Gov. Zell Miller, a Democrat. Mr. Miller later asked the entire board to resign and replaced them with new members, including Johnny Isakson, a Republican and a former candidate for governor against Mr. Miller.

Democrat Jeanette Jamieson, the chairwoman of the House education committee, would only say of the plan that "frankly, I think we have greater challenges."

Portable problems

Alabama's new governor, Don Siegelman, says he's tired of seeing portable classrooms when he drops his children off at school.

So the Democrat has decided to stop the flow of construction money to school districts until a workable plan can be approved to remove portable classrooms.

And he has made the matter a top priority, says Kristen Carvell, a spokeswoman for the governor.

One day after his Jan. 18 inaugural address, he signed an executive order that requires state construction money to go first to remove portables at those districts that have them and then to cover other districts' construction issues; it also prohibits their use after the 2001-02 fiscal year.

Members of the state school board are not pleased with Mr. Siegelman's actions. "We are not against removing the portable classrooms," said Stephanie Bell, a member of the board. But, she said, "there are schools that need the [construction] money for more serious problems."

For instance, Ms. Bell pointed out, there are 25 districts that don't have portables and need to fix their roofs, plumbing, or sewage problems first.

--Linda Jacobson & Karen L. Abercrombie

Vol. 18, Issue 21, Page 16

Published in Print: February 3, 1999, as State Journal

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