Common Core, election rules are discussed
by CHRISTY ARMSTRONG Banner Staff Writer
Dec 03, 2013 | 687 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
State-chosen Common Core standards in local schools and the possibility of a change to how commissioners could be elected in the future were once again the main topics of discussion at the Bradley County Commission’s most recent meeting.

Monday night, commissioners discussed how they were awaiting a response from the Bradley County school board before moving forward with plans to send a letter to the state government to officially declare the county’s stance on Common Core.

Commissioner Terry Caywood said retired teachers he had spoken to said the difficulty of the public school standards was “driving away good teachers.”

“The principle of Common Core is good,” Caywood said.

However, he said he had a problem with whether or not the standards were too hard for children in the lowest grades.

Commissioner Bill Winters called the matter a “complicated situation” and said he understood why the school board might be taking extra time to craft a response.

Fellow Commissioner Jeff Yarber said the Commission needs to make an effort to address Common Core on a state level with or without the school board response.

“There are some ideologies in Common Core that we can take,” he said.

Still, he argued the standards represent a “federalization” of the education system and pointed out the state could decide whether or not to make changes to the standards required of public school students.

Commissioners ultimately decided to wait for a response from the Bradley County Board of Education before moving forward with sending an official opinion to Nashville.

On the agenda for the evening meeting was a vote to change how commissioners would be elected, by requiring candidates to designate a specific seat within a district — Seat A or Seat B — when running for office.

The same resolution failed in a vote on Nov. 18, when the commissioners’ 7-7 vote did not result in a majority in favor of the measure.

However, a second vote for that measure planned for Monday’s meeting was postponed.

But that did not keep one audience member from still asking about it, prompting a discussion on why the matter might be revisited in the future.

Audience member Pam Edgemon asked who the proposed election change would most benefit, and why it might be needed.

Many commissioners reiterated their previous statements on the issue, indicating that they still stood with their original stances.

Caywood said he felt the election change would have given him an “unfair advantage” because a candidate might be inclined to run for a vacant seat instead of the one he had been holding.

Commissioner Mark Hall said he had a problem with the November vote on the issue having taken place shortly before candidates could officially begin the 2014 election process. He stressed wanting to “be forthright” and avoid the “aroma of corruption” that would have come with making a last-minute election rule change.

“It gives equality to the election process, in my opinion,” Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones said.

In addition, she said the state specifies that areas with populations of 150,000 or higher are required to have designated A and B seats on their ballots. She added that Bradley County may need to take up the issue anyway if the population continues to grow as expected.

Commissioner Jeff Morelock said he did not know whether or not the rule change would make a big difference in who would ultimately be elected to serve on the Commission.

“I am open [to the rule being in place] at some point,” Winters said. “We’ll look at this again.”

Commissioner J. Adam Lowe said the change would not concern the May 2014 primary but would impact elections in later years, if approved.

The Commission also planned to vote on how previously collected taxes could be used, but the measure was postponed because the commissioner who had asked that it be placed on the agenda was absent.

During the meeting, the Commission also unanimously voted to approve two of the resolutions that had also been on the agenda.

The first changed a county zoning rule and allowed for new approved uses for land designated as being a C-1 rural commercial zone. Builders can now include multifamily dwellings and apartments on properties that fall under that zoning category.

The second allowed for Roumelia Lane in the Riverview Estates subdivision to officially become a county road.

While the road had been part of an existing subdivision that included at least one house, it had never been grandfathered in as an official road. The approval of this resolution will allow the road to be paved with gravel and allow property owners to build more houses along the road.