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This isn't the way we hoped the board would move forward

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The Brunswick County Board of Education had a great opportunity to start anew with the hiring of a new superintendent last week, and yet somehow the announcement got flubbed up.

When the community should have been celebrating and welcoming the district’s new leadership with Dr. Edward Pruden, there was dissent among the board.

In a prepared statement, board member Scott Milligan said he was voting against the hiring of Pruden, not because of Pruden’s candidacy, but because of what he believed were some shady actions of some board members.

Board members Shirley Babson and Charlie Miller called Pruden during salary and contract negotiations to, they say, welcome him to the district and to congratulate him on his hiring.

Milligan took them to task, saying salary negotiations were compromised when Pruden was directed to a newspaper article that contained information about previous superintendent Katie McGee’s salary.

Babson and Miller said they only wanted to congratulate Pruden and they mentioned the article because it reflected  “good” comments that had been made.

Did Milligan really believe Babson and Miller changed the direction of contract negotiations?

It’s hard to believe someone as qualified and competent as Pruden didn’t already have access to his predecessor’s salary. It’s public record. It’s part of the school district’s budget. We’d be far more concerned about a candidate who didn’t research all aspects of this district—including salary and related information—before accepting this job, than we would be of someone who did.

It’s hard to believe Pruden didn’t already know salary information before the article was mentioned to him. And he even said the phone call with Babson and Miller contained no conversation about salary and that he was already aware of McGee’s salary.

The grandstanding ruined a perfect opportunity for this board to show unity and a commitment to work together to move the school district forward.

A number of controversial and unfortunate events happened under McGee’s leadership but several good things happened, too. The district saw an increase in test scores and an increase in meeting AYP goals.

Pruden and this board are poised to continue these successes, while at the same time restoring public confidence.

Board chairman Bud Thorsen said he doesn’t think the issue will hinder Pruden from moving the district forward.

We hope he’s right. The public has rightfully questioned far too much from this school district in recent years. It’s time to move forward and we hope Pruden proves he is the right man to do this job.