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Board debates Byrne's proposal

By M.J. Ellington (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — Two-year college Chancellor Bradley Byrne's proposal to stop system employees from using unpaid leave to serve in the state Legislature led to heated debate among members of the state school board.

Ella Bell, D-Montgomery, said she would oppose the measure. Mary Jane Caylor, D-Huntsville said she supports it.

Others said they have concerns but were uncertain about how they will vote when the measure comes up at the board's next meeting Aug. 23.

"We have a lot of people in the system who do a good job, including some legislators, but we have some people who have abused the system," said David Byers, R-Birmingham, after the meeting. Byers, whose district includes Decatur, said he will probably vote for the measure. He is vice president of the board.

Sandra Ray, D-Tuscaloosa, said she is reluctantly beginning to see that restricting leave time may be necessary.

"This is apparently where we have to be," Ray said.

"I would like for it not to have occurred in the first place. I wish people had handled it responsibly themselves, but some did not."

Board member Ethel Hall, D-Midfield, said she still is concerned about the proposal, which gives little leeway for legislators who work at the colleges to also continue serving in the Legislature.

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