Board Meeting Heats Up Over Belgium Trip | News
Superintendent Romain Dallemand's impending trip to Belgium served as a lighting rod during the public comments at Thursday's board meeting.
Dallemand, Deputy Superintendent Susan Griffin-Ziebart, and Director of professional learning Judy Godfrey plan to attend the World Appreciative Inquiry Conference in Ghent, Belgium, where they will make presentations on the district-wide meetings at the Macon Centreplex held last year that helped create the Macon Miracle.
"Why do we have to spend all this money and go overseas," said Ron Tabb, who sat in the audience at the board meeting. "It's already been stated that the school budget is in dire straits."
Godfrey said the trip costs about $3,000 per person, including registration, air fare and lodging. Dallemand told the board and the audience that being invited to the conference was an honor.
"For the first time, as far as people can remember, the world actually wants to hear what Bibb County is doing that is positive," he wrote in a blog post.
Board members Gary Bechtel, Susan Sipe, and Lynn Farmer questioned the timing and the benefit of the trip. Board vice President Susan Middleton made an impassioned speech about putting aside the divisiveness surrounding the Macon Miracle vote.
"We are judged on the performance of this entire district," she said to wild applause. "We are all in the same boat. So coming here to this board meeting and beating up on the superintendent or beating up on board members is not going to improve our graduation rate!"
Middleton told Dallemand he had to "bring home the bacon," proof that the Belgium trip will be beneficial for every Bibb County student.
Other board members, including Wanda West, Tom Hudson and Ella Carter supported the trip.
"We need to trust our leadership," said Carter.
They said through the trip, Dallemand was working to produce the constructive change for which he was hired.
The conference starts April 25 and runs through the 28th. It's held once every three years, and this year, more than 40 countries will be represented.