The Anniston Board of Education needs a new member.
At the end of the board’s meeting Thursday, Donna Ross announced she was resigning from her seat on the board. Ross, first elected to the body in 2012, said her husband had accepted a job in Olive Branch, Miss., and that she and her family would be moving there.
“This will be my last meeting,” Ross said. “I’ve very much enjoyed my service on the board ... It’s been an interesting journey.”
Superintendent Darren Douthitt said it will be up to the Anniston City Council to replace Ross, who represented Ward 1. Her successor, he said, “has to be a person who comes out of Ward 1.”
Ross served her first year as president of the board, overseeing controversial topics such as the ongoing efforts to consolidate the school system due to declining enrollment. The position then rotated in January to current president Bill Robison.
“I think this board will truly miss Miss Ross,” Robison said. “She has done a lot to help this system and the students.”
Douthitt said he will also miss Ross, noting that she supported him with many motivational notes during his first days as superintendent. The board hired Douthitt in February.
“There is a motivational sign on my office door right now that was a sign she had left me,” Douthitt said. “It touched me to know a board member supported me to that extent.”
Also during the meeting, the board approved a $137,000 emergency expenditure, to come from the system’s capital improvement fund, to replace the malfunctioning air conditioning system at Golden Springs Elementary. The system, which cools almost the entire school, is set to be replaced during fall break. In the meantime, the board will have to pay $300 two to three times each week to replace the unit’s Freon, the substance needed to cool the air.
“On day one of this school year, when I went in the school I realized it was a problem ... it was pretty warm,” Douthitt said. “We have plans to have temporary units brought in if the system goes down completely.”
Robison said that because the air conditioning repair was declared an emergency expenditure, it did not have to move through as stringent a bidding process as most purchases using taxpayer money.
The board also tabled a proposal to allow the Learning Tree, a local nonprofit that provides preschool services in Anniston, to move those services into a city school. Several board members had questions, such as wanting to know what liabilities the school system might take on if the proposal is approved.
“We’ve got to protect this system and its resources,” Robison said.
In other business the board:
• Accepted a $2,000 donation from Rep. Barbara Boyd, D-Anniston, to help fourth-graders in the school system.
• Approved an updated library manual for the school system.
• Approved policies for the career technology program.