Current and incoming Dayton school board members discuss leadership roles for 2018 on Tuesday, Dec. 19. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

Newcomer Harris likely to lead Dayton school board in 2018

The current and incoming members of the Dayton school board informally agreed Tuesday to have newly elected William Harris serve as school board president for 2018, and existing board member John McManus serve as vice president.

Those appointments are not yet official, and the board will vote on those roles at its 2018 organization meeting Jan. 9.

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“I appreciate the trust that has been exhibited already and would be honored to serve as president if that’s the body’s will,” Harris said. “It’s critical that leadership understands we have to put our egos aside and do what’s best for the organization.”

At the beginning of the meeting, current board member Sheila Taylor suggested the board should choose one of the four newly elected members to serve as president.

“It will allow us to say we’re ready to change, and we want things to be different than before,” said Taylor, who in January will be the longest-serving member of the school board, at 10 years.

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The new board will have major issues to deal with right away, including the fate of superintendent Rhonda Corr — who remains on paid leave — and the pending decision on whether to close a number of schools due to lower enrollment.

At Tuesday’s meeting, McManus repeatedly called for better professionalism, preparation and organization by the board, which has been criticized in the past two years for confusion and inefficiency in board meetings.

“I want our constituents to be proud of this board,” McManus said. “This a chance to remake this board into a group governed by professionalism.”

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McManus, Taylor and current board President Robert Walker have two more years in their school board terms. Newly elected members Harris, Karen Wick-Gagnet, Mohamed Al-Hamdani and Jocelyn Rhynard will begin their four-year terms in January.

School board members Joe Lacey, Hazel Rountree and Ron Lee attended the last board meetings of their terms Tuesday night.