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Decatur school board changes presidents

By Bayne Hughes 340-2432

The Decatur Board of Education decided to make a major change in leadership Thursday for the first time in seven years.

Dr. Charles Elliott spent the last seven years as board president, but the board unanimously elected Karen Duke to fill the position for 2007-08.

The board is entering its final year of a four-year term. Members will be up for election in August 2008. A split board elected Elliott vice president. Carol Sandlin, Duke and Elliott voted for Elliott, while Karen Jett and Tommy Sykes voted for Sykes, who has been the vice president for the last seven years.

Elliott, serving his third term on the board as the District 5 representative, stepped aside as president, saying it's time for a change. Giving up the presidency also allows for more time to help his wife, Sherri, deal with leukemia.

Duke is in her second term as the District 3 board member.

The board also welcomed Dwight Jett Jr., a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard, back from the Iraq war. He did not re-assume his position as a board member. His wife, Karen, has been filling in during his 15-month absence.

Dwight Jett said the military did not officially release him until Oct. 15, and he must give a 30-day notice before he can go back to his board duties.

His first official meeting as a board member again will be Nov. 13. He said he already is working on getting his law practice restarted. He said his wife is updating him on board and school system happenings. He toured the new Banks-Caddell Elementary School and Austin High School's new social studies-science building, which is nearing completion, with Superintendent Sam Houston.

"Banks-Caddell's walls were just going up when I left," Dwight Jett said. "They're both beautiful buildings."

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