B of E News: Special Called Meetings, Book Signings, Et Cetera

There’s been a little, ahem, extracurricular Dade County Board of Education news here and there recently, between formal board meetings, which your friendly neighborhood Planet is pleased to pass on here.

First, Dr. Jan Harris, superintendent of schools, called a special meeting last Thursday to approve a bid for the previously discussed outside restoration of school buildings. Blevins Construction, the only bidder, was awarded the contract for the amount of $281,820.

Also approved at the April 27 meeting were the retirements of Janie House, a teacher at Dade Middle School, and Syd Morrison, a teacher at Dade County High School.

The board also approved the voluntary transfer of Jamie Bonner from DMS to DES and accepted the resignations of Mary Kate Harwart, a teacher at Davis, Jessica McMahan, a teacher at Dade Elementary, and Laura Holder, a bus driver.

New hires were also approved for the 2018-19 school year. The board did not submit a list but did provide a complete list of personnel for next year. It is appended to the end of this article.

This week, Dr. Jan Harris signed copies of her newly released book, Leadership, According to Solomon: A Story of One School Leader’s Quest for Wisdom, at a lunch reception organized by local newsman Evan Stone on Monday at the Dade County Public Library.

Dr. H says she started writing the book four years ago while working as superintendent of an Alabama county school system. “Then I really started putting it together in the two year period in between my retirement there and here,” said the super. “So when I came here I was about 90 percent finished, I had a contract for it and all, and then I finished it up last summer.”

Dr. Harris expects her tome to be of most interest to principals and school administrators—there are questions to contemplate and points to ponder—but it is by no means a textbook. She made her quest for wisdom into a sort of novel, weaving real people and news items into a fictional narrative.

For example, she incorporates into her tale a conversation with the real-life story of controversial Alabama educator Billy Coleman, who made interesting headlines in his quest to regain for his school system control of public lands allocated to the schools, which had since become valuable resort property.

At the book’s heart of seven virtues Dr. Harris thinks successful leaders should cultivate, which she gleaned from the Book of Proverbs—though the super says her novel does not attempt to proselytize. “It’s using the Bible as a literary source.” She said.

Dade County Executive Chairman Ted Rumley gets his copy of the super's book. In a county where school and county administrators have sometimes communicated through their attorneys, Dr. H has engineered cordial relations with other local officials.

To what extent Wisdom is autobiographical the super did not say, but in a county famous for riding school superintendents out of town on metaphorical rails, covered with figurative tar and feathers and seconds ahead of proverbial mobs of pitchfork-and-torch-wielding citizenry, Dr. Harris on Monday was receiving instead a good number of hugs and roses from the Dade powers-that-be--which might feasibly be taken as an indicator of wise leadership.

Wisdom, According to Solomon, co-published by educational association AASA and Bowman & Littlevield, is available from Amazon.com for $20.

Here is a list of the approved 2018-2019 Dade school staffers for next year.

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