School Board leaders switch roles

Published 7:41 pm Thursday, January 7, 2021

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Their roles will be reversed for 2021, as Dr. Judith Brooks-Buck has been voted to be the chairwoman of the Suffolk School Board, and Phyllis Byrum the vice chairwoman.

During its virtual reorganizational meeting Jan. 7, Byrum nominated Brooks-Buck to become chairwoman, with Lorita Mayo seconding the motion. Mayo, in turn, nominated Byrum to be the vice chairwoman, and David Mitnick seconded the motion.

The board voted 6-1 in favor of Brooks-Buck, with board member Sherri Story voting no. The vote for Byrum was unanimous.

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Byrum had been the chairwoman, and Brooks-Buck the vice chairwoman, for the past two years.

Three members of the board who were re-elected — Brooks-Buck, Byrum and Mitnick — took their oaths of office from Clerk of Court Randy Carter.

The board also voted to have Tarshia Gardner continue to serve as the board’s clerk and Keesha Hicks as deputy clerk.

Board members voted unanimously to keep their salaries at $10,000 each, with an additional $1,400 for the chair.

They also voted to keep their meeting schedule mostly unchanged, meeting on the second Thursday every month except for April, when it will meet April 21 instead of the second Thursday, since the second Thursday, April 8, falls during spring break.

The board unanimously approved the committee and board appointments:

  • Finance Committee: Brooks-Buck and Byrum, with the rest of the board serving as alternates.
  • Legislative Committee: Mayo and Karen Jenkins, with Mitnick as the alternate.
  • Policy Review Committee: Brooks-Buck and Byrum, with Mitnick as the alternate.
  • ACCESS College Foundation Board of Directors: Mitnick, with Tyron Riddick as the alternate
  • Governor’s School for the Arts: Mayo, with Brooks-Buck as the alternate.
  • SECEP: Brooks-Buck, with Mayo as the alternate.
  • Suffolk Education Foundation: Story, with Byrum as the alternate.
  • Virginia School Board Association voting delegate and alternate: Brooks-Buck and Byrum.
  • WHRO/HRETA Educational Advisory Board: Jenkins, with Brooks-Buck as the alternate.

The board voted 5-1 — Story voted no and Mitnick abstained — in favor of the superintendent Dr. John B. Gordon III’s designees to attend meetings in his absence, Chief Academic Officer Dr. Okema Branch and Chief of Administrative Services Dr. Suzanne Rice.

The board meets for its regular meeting Jan. 14 and will be held virtually.

Regular school board meeting dates (work sessions begin at 5 p.m., followed by a closed session and the general public meeting starting at 7 p.m.): Jan. 14, Feb. 11, March 11, April 21, May 13, June 10, July 8, Aug. 12, Sept. 9, Oct. 14, Nov. 11, Dec. 9.