June 12, 2014 10:17:02 AM
Sarah Fowler - [email protected]
The Columbus City Council and Columbus Municipal School Board will meet at 6 p.m. on July 8.
School board president Angela Verdell confirmed the meeting time on Tuesday.
Board member Jason Spears questioned the necessity of the meeting. He claimed that council members rarely attend board meeting where they would be able to ask questions.
Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem, who is the driving force behind the joint meeting, on Wednesday disagreed with Spears' assertion.
"I think the statement that he made is disingenuous because I have attended a plethora of school board meetings past and present," Karriem said.
However, Karriem said the length of the school board meetings discourage people from regularly attending. He described them as "marathons."
"They're all night long and it's unfair to the parents of the district who want to get involved," he said. "That's a deterrent. The meeting starts at 6 and you're there until 10, 11 o'clock at night."
Karriem said he would rather have a meeting of the two bodies and have a mutual discussion rather than appear on the school's board's agenda and have a one-sided conversation.
"When the school board is in such disarray and there is such confusion on the school board... For us to get on the agenda to discuss issues that are concerning the whole entire community is unfair and unwarranted."
By having a public meeting of the two bodies, Karriem hopes parents will be able to attend and ask questions.
Karriem said he wanted to meet with board members to discuss his concerns over the district's upcoming budget request. However, the district's budget should be finalized before the July 8 meeting with council members. In addition to budget needs, Karriem said he is looking for the school board to conduct its business more openly.
"We're looking for transparency," Karriem said. " I think the parents of the district want transparency as well. We, being council members, have an obligation, as we prepare our budget, to know what the school board is going to need."
Karriem said his overall hope for the outcome of the meeting is a joint effort to improve the city's schools.
"I'm just trying to see what we can do as a body to help the district move forward," he said. "Economic development, quality of life and quality of education is what makes a community and that's the direction we're trying to move in."
The meeting will be held at Brandon Central Office, where the school board holds its regular meetings.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.