No one knows how newly elected DeKalb County School Board members Donna Edler and Nancy Jester will change group dynamics, but what is clear is that they share a desire to improve fiscal responsibility of the sysytem.
After taking more than 70 percent of the vote in a Nov. 30 runoff election against two-term District 7 representative Zepora Roberts, Edler said she especially intends to use her background as a certified professional accountant to improve the system’s auditing process.
“I want to assure that those internal fiscal controls are in place. We’re going to get the system’s financial picture in order,” Edler said.
“From multimillion dollar organizations to small non-profits, they all have a CPA look at their books on a regular basis.”
Jester, who defeated District 1 incumbent Jim Redovian by receiving 55.3 percent of the vote, said she wants to “trim the fat” off system overhead. “I want to focus on the core of our business, which is educating children and improving academics for all students. To do that we’re going to need a good fiscal methodology,” Jester said.
“I advocate zero-base budgeting, which means you start from scratch; the old budget is not automatically rolled over. Nothing is done just because you’ve always done it that way. You don’t ask ‘where can I cut?’ Instead you ask ‘what do I need to accomplish my goal.’ Everything is justified,” she added.
In addition to backgrounds in finance, Jester holds a B.A. in economics and Edler a B.S. in accounting and a M.A. in business. Both women also have children in the school system.
DeKalb County School Board Chairman Tom Bowen said the newcomers will have to play some catch up before their terms begin in January 2011.
“Initially they’ll be spending most of their time getting brought up to speed, but usually it takes time to figure out what role they will have. Typically 90 to 120 days,” Bowen said.
“In the past even the addition of one or two new board members has changed the dynamics of the board. However I’d wait and see what impact they will have around March or April,” he said.
For Jester and Edler, District 9 representative Eugene Walker, who won his bid for re-election Nov. 2, gave just one piece of advice: remember that the board is made up of nine members and not one.
“They shouldn’t come thinking they’ll transform or revolutionize the board. There are nine independent thinking people on the board,” Walker said.
“We’ve got to work together and compromise for the betterment of students. The board member who will have the most influence can work with the majority. It’s their people skills that will make the day no matter what degrees or skills they have,” he said.