Not even a month into the 2008-2009 school year, and already so much has transpired. Yet, a closer look past the internal bickering, and it seems as if the Baldwin County Board of Education is only spinning its wheels on several key issues. In order to move forward, the board must act now — not later — on filling the vacancy in District 3.

Board member Mark Archer has already indicated that he will not vote on a budget for Fiscal Year 2009 unless the district is represented in budget discussions — and rightfully so. We’ve said in a previous editorial that approving a new budget with one-fifth of the county’s population left in the dark is not fair to the taxpayers of District 3. Until a new representative has been selected, the board will be left operating without a budget for the new fiscal year — which began July 1 — leaving the school system to resort to borrowing funds for operations at a cost to all of us as local

taxpayers.

The board is set to meet today in a work session to discuss both the budget and the District 3 vacancy. Today’s meeting agenda is the same as the agenda for last Friday’s scheduled meeting, which, of course, was abruptly canceled. And while we’ve already expressed our sentiments on the meeting’s cancellation and the last-minute maneuverings that have taken place regarding that meeting, it’s time to move past it all, settle on a resolution for the District 3 vacancy, hammer out a budget and get down to the business of improving education for our local students.

However the means for choosing this new board member, the District 3 representative must be willing to step up to the plate immediately to become both a positive ambassador for the Baldwin school system and a calming force on our Board of Education. Otherwise, the wedge that seems to be developing among our four present board members will only continue to widen.

The Board of Education and all of Baldwin County Schools began this new year just shy of a month ago with high expectations, but the internal rancor that began as a simmer is slowly coming to a low boil — overshadowing any focus on the real issues — the issues that should matter. We urge the board to move on the District 3 issue somehow, some way — either by making an appointment or getting Gov. Sonny Perdue to do it. It’s past time for this issue to be resolved.

The board is scheduled to meet today at 5:30 p.m. for a work session. Hopefully, whatever discussions take place today will bring this chapter to a close. It’s time for everyone involved in this process to put aside personal feelings and move past the events that have already taken place. It’s time for board members to move past their own agendas and look at the bigger picture of education. Otherwise, the board will only continue to spin its wheels.

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