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Robinson named District 2 representative

Butler County Board of Education president Mickey Jones (right) welcomes the newly-announced Lois Robinson as a member of the board during Monday night’s meeting.

Butler County Board of Education president Mickey Jones (right) welcomes the newly-announced Lois Robinson as a member of the board during Monday night’s meeting.

Following three hours of deliberation and a gauntlet of interviews, it was Lois Robinson who emerged as the new representative of the Butler County School System’s District 2.

Robinson and five others—including Terry Banks, Susan Andrews, Vonnie Lawson, Dale Gates and James Seale—endured a public interview in which the candidates delivered an opening and closing statement and answered seven questions relating to the skills and knowledge required as a member of the board.

The same seven questions that were posed to each candidate were:

1.  The board is a board of governments.  Have you served on a board of governance of another institution?

2.  What is your understanding of the basic role and responsibility of this role?

3.  If selected, what three matters or problems would you address immediately?

4.  How would you deal with a necessary but unpopular decision such as the discharge of an employee or school consolidation that could adversely impact your district?

5.  What is your vision of our school system, and where do you think it needs to be in four years?

6.  What is your reaction to the Alabama legislature’s position on charter schools?

7.  What would you say to our state legislators about the way schools are funded?

Even while maintaining a level of assuredness during the actual interview process, Robinson said that she was surprised at the outcome.

“I know that everyone is qualified,” Robinson said. “They’d already made sure of that, so I knew that any one of us could do it. I was not exactly sure if having children in the system currently was going to weigh heavily.  I do not.  I have a daughter that graduated from the system, but I serve the system regardless. So I was pleasantly surprised.”

Despite not having children in the system, Robinson said that she and her husband, who are both pastors within the Butler County community, continued to serve its students in the form of an afterschool tutoring program.

Robinson also served as a member of the YMCA board of directors as well the child advocacy board.

Her position as a teacher with Reid State Technical College also gave her valuable experience with high school students courtesy of the county’s dual enrollment program.

But even among those qualifications, Robinson hopes that a willingness to learn and collaborate were the reasons she was selected for the District 2 position.

“Of course, I would hope that past experience working in the community would have some bearing, and just the fact that I’m a team player,” Robinson said.  “I hope that came across well, and the fact that I don’t come with preconceived notions.  I need to get inside and see what’s going on with the board and then make decisions from there.

“I don’t think my place is to come in and change something that I don’t even know how it’s operating, so it’s important for me to become a team player, see how things are working and go from there.”

Robinson has done some of the homework required to fulfill her duties, but she insists that the biggest lessons are yet to come.

“As the newbie, there’s a lot to learn,” Robinson said. “I’m sure that the way things appear from the outside are not the way they work on the inside.  I’ve read the strategic plan, and I know that there was a goal to accomplish a lot by 2020.  And a lot of the things that I did not address as issues are things that are in the strategic plan, so they’re already in place.  I’m wanting to see how those things are working.

“Of course, I have some ideas for some things.  I would love to see more counselors.  Guidance counselors are great, but some of our children have mental issues, and I would love to see more counseling in the school for them.  I would like to see teachers get some kind of relief so that they don’t have to carry the financial burden that they’ve carried for so many years.”

Before the board members entered into an executive session to discuss the six interviews, Robinson left closing remarks that inadvertently foreshadowed her own success.

“I’ve always interviewed for positions in which I have skills and abilities and that I’ve been trained for,” Robinson said. “This is very different.  I’ve never been interviewed in an open forum before, so that’s very different for me—to have the people of the community at my back is very different for me.

“And I appreciate it because it takes a little bit of the nerves away, but I will say this—if selected to serve on the board, this is the last time the community will be at my back because I would like to be face-to-face with them on whatever issues we face as a community.”