Paul Sergent, veteran Commerce Board of Education member, was elected chairman of the board Monday night, Jan. 13. Sergent was chairman before for “two or three years.”

He has been on the board since 2002. He is a physician in Commerce.

Two BOE incumbents, including the chairman, were defeated in the November election.

Nathan Anderson was elected vice chairman.

Sergent represents District 5. He won re-election in November by six votes, 71-65.

Incumbents Rodney Gary and Bill Davis lost their elections. Kyle Moore, a past BOE member, and Knox Smith were elected in Districts 4 and 3, respectively.

In the only business of the board, Smith proposed that the board meetings be moved from the second to the third Monday of the month.

It came up during the board’s look at meetings scheduled in 2020. Smith said the change would put more distance between the work session and the board meeting. He said board members could do research on issues if needed.

Smith said it also would give the public “more than four days” to register comments if an issue generated those.

Sergent said issues now could be tabled for a month if needed.

The list of meetings for the year were not approved. The list was left until the February meeting. The meetings will be held Thursday, Feb. 6, and Monday, Feb. 10.

Superintendent Joy Tolbert reported the district ELOST – education local option sales tax – fund is about $1.996 million. She said the balance at the beginning of January was a bit more than $2 million. The big deposit for the month was $149,000. The district paid $190,000 as part of its ABM Solutions contract for energy conservation.

Tolbert also recommended, and it was approved, that the Gainesville firm of Harben, Hartley and Hawkins continue legal representation of the board. The firm of Hulsey, Oliver and Mahar was recommended as legal “backup” in case of a conflict for Harben, Hartley and Hawkins.

It is the first time Tolbert has recommended two firms. Harben, Hartley and Hawkins represent about two-thirds of the school boards in the state, including the Georgia School Boards Association.

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