New Board members Coverstone, Gentry sworn in

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 10:09pm
Alan Coverstone was sworn in along with Sharon Gentry Tuesday night. File/The City Paper

At the Board of Education’s shortest meeting in months, two new board members – Alan Coverstone and Sharon Gentry – were sworn into office.

“It’s exciting and humbling,” Coverstone said, after the meeting. “I’m trying to familiarize myself with what all’s coming up. … I have been paying attention, though, so I at least know what the procedures are at a pretty high level already. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to interact appropriately with people to get things done.”

Gentry and Coverstone said they’re working to build upon the knowledge of Metro Nashville Public Schools that they’ve already developed.

The two were elected earlier this month and replace former board members George Thompson and Marsha Warden.

Neither Thompson nor Warden sought re-election on Aug. 7.

Gentry said she plans to begin visiting schools regularly, now that she has been elected, and hopes to involve herself with projects including a new Tennessee Department of Education-prompted “data warehouse.”

Among the changes put in motion over the summer by the DOE is establishment of a data warehouse, which is intended to help increase the speed of access to student and school performance data on the part of school and district officials. Gentry said she hopes her technology background will help her participate in the effort.

“I just want to be involved,” Gentry said. “[I want] to get a good understand of how that’s working, how we’re doing at collecting the data, how it’s going to be used, and how we can best use it in order to be in a proactive position.”

All board members will, in the coming weeks, attend a retreat facilitated by the Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA). The retreat will, among other things, acquaint the board with the unique governance structure of public school districts.

At the board’s next meeting, a new chair will be elected immediately after nominations are made.

Recently re-elected board member Ed Kindall served as temporary board chair Tuesday evening, following the departure of former chair Warden. Kindall has, in his decades-long career on the board, previously served as chair, but says he is not interested in seeking the position again, due to the time commitment.

Warden has said the role of chair requires about 30 hours per week.

“I’m running for parliamentarian,” Kindall said Tuesday.

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