HomeOpinionMichael MeyersOpinion: Term Limits Imposed By Those With No Term Limits

Opinion: Term Limits Imposed By Those With No Term Limits

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We have heard the words time and time again, especially in recent months, that the Richmond County School System is a failing school system. From a personal standpoint, those terms are troubling to me and I don’t like those words being used, but it is what it is.

We have to be candid about the overall performance of the RCSS, so to hear elected officials– and school board members in particular– talking about potential raises is a bit disconcerting, especially as the talks about potential term limits loom possibly in the future.

I do not believe any real elected officials who are effective in doing their job make enough compensation for what they do. Please understand significant undertone in my usage of the word real. I believe we have some elected officials who really work hard and are really about doing the people’s business… then we have some who are really not that effective at all, and I will let all of you determine who compose these groups. 

Before we address whether or not the board members should get a raise, let me address the chain of emails that came out of nowhere last week. It seems there have been local delegation members who were attempting to draft and present legislation to impose term limits on school board members. This idea is not too far off, considering the mayor and all the commissioners have term limits. This issue comes in because you have a group of people who have no term limits trying to impose term limits on people who don’t have term limits. 

So as you can imagine, this conversation brings on an air of ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ This can sound a bit cold from a body that some would say doesn’t do anything. Board member Venus Cain responded to the thread of emails in reference to the possible term limits by stating: “I think they are funny. Not one thing we have asked for in over ten years have they been able to produce.”  

To their defense, the House and Senate are both GOP-controlled. It would be hard to get anything through… Wait– Senator Jones was able to sponsor a bill on hate crimes and it passed.  

Trustee Dr. Wayne Frazier, who for the most part has always been the most outspoken board member, has been very vocal about the idea that if the schools aren’t changing, board members should leave. This has been met with quite a bit of opposition from other board members. That being said, everything Dr. Frazier says is met with opposition from the other board members. Truth be told, Dr. Frazier has been accused of not being a team player, and some say Frazier could possibly come up with a good motion one day and it would still die for the lack of a second. 

The most critical part of this entire process of term limits is the fact that Dr. Frazier’s wife is a legislator and could have a say in the term limit discussion, which some say is a conflict of interest.  I don’t think she would care either way and Dr. Frazier wouldn’t either. Word on the street is that he is eyeing a run for the soon-to-be-vacant District 4 Commission seat that will be vacant soon. Sammie Sias will soon be term-limited out and have to leave. Then he can go back to running his Jamestown Community Center like the Sergeant Major’s Bunker. 

I personally don’t think that board members should have term limits. I believe the people have an option to hire and fire at each election. That is the time to say NO to someone that you may not want to go back in office. The problem is there is little to no true engagement in what school board members do or don’t do. What we do know is that they get the most blame with the least pay. The question is if the pay adds up to what they do.

I have heard members state they have no real control, but then complain about the calls they get and the problems they have to fix for people. So which one is it? Do you answer the phone or just let it ring? Either way, the board is a very important part of our community. The overall community consensus is that more should be done. My thoughts are that it can be done, if effective policies are put in place, real issues are addressed and if the community support is raised vertically. Let’s not forget the superintendent – who most people think is the board’s boss. Contrary to popular belief, he reports to them– or at least he should. In most cases, however, we see what my dad would refer to as “the tail wagging the dog”.  

So should the board members get raises? No. Do they make enough money? No. Just like the commissioners, they should get more money– just not now. I won’t ever agree to board raises in the midst of a term. It just looks bad. However, so are the school grades that were recently released by Dr. Frazier, in his attempt to tell us what we already know. The schools are underperforming. The thing that was left out was that Frazier initiated the raise talks when he first won. 

Let’s just hope as the raises are put in place in January and the schools are performing better.  Maybe then as a city we can focus on things like why the land bank has so many homes on their list but won’t help local people get them. We know there are two schools of thought on this topic… Oops. That’s a column for next week.

Michael Meyers is a Columnist for The Augusta Press. Reach him at [email protected]

1 COMMENT

  1. Please ask city leaders to live up to, “Augusta is the Garden City” well there are a tremendous number of street Rideways that are overgrown and unkempt. Maybe instead of paying individuals to take pictures of unkempt lots and then have them mow the lots for pay, have these folks help keep up public streets. Make us proud to be Augustans living in the “Garden City.”

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