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franklin county times

Sunday, June 30, 2002

By Staff
School board president's letter of resignation to county superintendent
Dear Superintendent Little,
During my time as a board member in the Lauderdale County School District, my colleagues and I have been met with difficult circumstances and have had to face the responsibility of making sound policy and financial decisions we felt to be in the best interest of our children.
Our most recent challenge has been the budget crisis of 2002. The lack of adequate funding and overall priority for public education in our state has pushed us into decisions which may not allow us to continue some of the advances we have been able to enjoy in the past.
In times of crisis, one has to lean on prayer and faith and try best to make decisions based on the information at hand and measurements of our past performance as a district.
I recently asked this central administration and all campus leadership to propose cost reduction ideas to help us make it through this desperate time. I appreciate the few responses received. However, the administration did not make any recommendations for budget reductions and we as a board had to take regular meeting time to brainstorm ideas for reducing our costs of operation.
We offered numerous proposals, both at the central office and at each campus, and almost every time the idea was dismissed as unachievable or unreasonable. Even after we discussed cost reduction options at each campus and within each department with district leadership, we received no recommendations from the central office staff.
We then had a tough decision to make regarding our current organizational structure. We decided on a majority vote to make an organizational staffing decision that would save money and have the least impact on any one individual. No one was asked to step down or receive a salary reduction. The cost savings would simply come from filling open positions already in the district with current employees. This decision was a difficult one, but I have a responsibility to the children, parents and taxpayers of this district to maintain a secure financial operation.
Nevertheless, because of this decision, negative comments were made concerning my intelligence and qualifications to serve as school board member. Even more serious than any comment, there were threats made against me which if brought to fruition, would jeopardize funding for the children of this district.
In addition, the welfare and future of my children were also threatened. I love my children with all my heart and cannot take the chance of my service as a school board member interfering with their life and happiness.
Thus, it is with mixed emotions that I resign as board president and board member for District 5 of Lauderdale County effective following tonight's meeting. I have a heavy heart because I was reared to never quit anything no matter how tough things become. However, I hope the community will understand that I cannot take these threats lightly and my goal was only to do the best job possible.
I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the people of District 5 who gave me the opportunity to serve. Even with the personal time constraints and demands of a family and full-time employment, I have always tried to do my best and keep the children, teachers and administration of our school district in mind with each and every vote cast and decision made. I thank every employee of this school district for their kindness and professionalism during these almost six years.
It is my hope that this school system will find a replacement whose views and beliefs are more closely aligned with the educational vision and dreams of its current leadership to assume my responsibilities as board member until the November election.
Jimmy Gibson

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