Brian Clark’s decision not to run for a third six-year term on the Lowndes County School District Board of Trustees is a loss for the district, especially given the uncertainty surrounding who will take his place as the District 2 board member. Approaching Friday’s 5 p.m. qualifying deadline no candidate for the position has filled with the circuit clerk’s office.
While we don’t yet know who will ultimately fill the position, we do know what is lost by Clark’s departure. During his 12 years on the LCSD board, Clark saw his duties with his employer — 4-County Electric Power Association — expand from accountant to CFO to assistant GM and, in 2018, General Manager. His responsibilities at 4-County was one of the reasons he cited for not seeking another term on the school board.
Clark’s background in managing the finances of and running a multi-million dollar organization was certainly a benefit to the school district, whose annual budget approaches $30 million.
Many of our public boards should be thought of as large corporations: School boards, boards of supervisors, city governments, development agencies, visitors bureaus all have multi-million dollar budgets, some in the tens of millions.
These various boards may have different missions, but the common denominator is they are called to manage funds, lots of funds. An organization is only as healthy as its finances. It’s Job No. 1 and organizations and boards that manage their finances wisely and effectively are on the road to success.
We do not advocate that all boards that manage budgets be filled by business people. Certainly, each board has unique needs and benefits from diverse skill sets, experience and points of view. But the importance of having people on board who know finances is universal.
That’s why we are appreciative of Clark’s time on the county school board and are encouraged by other business-minded individuals who have stepped forward with a willingness to serve.
Recently, the Columbus Redevelopment Authority had a full slate of candidates who had extensive experience managing large budgets, namely Jason Spears and Matt Bogue.
We hope to see more people with fiscal experience raise their hands with a willingness to serve the public interest.
Some boards don’t have a budget, but for those that do, having board members familiar with managing finances is of critical importance.
It is something to keep in mind as other board positions come open and are filled.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.
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