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Board vote may proceed despite 4-1 council vote

By By Leada Gore, Hartselle Enquirer
A split vote on a plan to change the way Hartselle chooses school board members doesn’t mean the issue is dead.
Rep. Ronald Grantland, D-Hartselle, said he’s willing to set a referendum to allow for an elected school board, a reverse in a long-standing policy that required a unanimous council vote for legislative delegation action.
In a letter sent to Mayor Dwight Tankersley last week, Grantland encourages the council to pass a resolution allowing the citizens of Hartselle to vote on whether to have an elected or appointed school board. The council passed a resolution to hold a referendum Tuesday night on a 4-1 vote, with councilmen Tom Chappell voting against the motion.
Don Hall, who previously said he would vote against the resolution, changed his mind. He said he had heard from several people asking him to allow them to vote.
In the past, a “no” vote would have meant the issue was dead, but Grantland said he’s willing to reexamine that policy.
Earlier this month, a petition with 788 signatures was presented to the council. The petition is not required by law, but done as a show of support for the referendum.
Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said he’s also willing to look at the request and does not rule out setting a referendum.
Orr said he will talk to Hartselle’s election officials about their thoughts on the process before he proceeds, but was “inclined” to change the policy.
Chappell said his vote was based on his thoughts for what he thought was best for the students.
To bolster his point, Chappell said he’d examined the 67 county school systems and 66 city school systems in the state. State law requires all county systems to have elected boards but only 20 city school systems have elected boards.
Chappell said based on English and math test scores, 17 of the top 20 school systems in the state are city systems. Of those 17, 15 have appointed school boards.

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