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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Sep. 12, 200112:00 PM EST

Jenkins new Council liaison to School Board

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by: Mike Sharkey

City Council vice president Suzanne Jenkins is picking up where former Council president Alberta Hipps left off.

For the next 10 months Jenkins will serve as the liaison between Council and the Duval County School Board.

Last year, Hipps became the first Council member to formally establish an interactive working relationship between the two elected bodies. And, as an early candidate for the 2003 mayoral election, Hipps will surely remind the voting public of that fact.

Jenkins, who will serve until June 30, says that the job is officially hers, it’s time to get busy.

With two children at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and a third at DePaul, Jenkins is quite familiar with the public school system and how it works. Although she has been active in her children’s schools in various capacities, her role as liaison to the School Board will give her an avenue to act in an official capacity.

Jenkins was approved Monday night, but she actually started her new job July 1. It also adds to her already busy schedule.

“I have finished the cell tower bill and I’m chairman of the active recreation committee,” said Jenkins, who is also vice chair of the Land Use & Zoning Committee. “We’ve gotten a good start on the active recreation committee and I think I’ll have time to do the job with the School Board.”

Since taking over for Hipps, Jenkins has met several times with her School Board counterpart, Kris Barnes. The two have broached a variety of topics, but Jenkins said a couple of issues are at the top of her list.

“The joint youth issue on parks is something that we have got to get working better,” said Jenkins, adding she has yet to determine how often she will meet with members of the School Board. “I’ll meet as often as it takes —monthly, weekly, every other week.”

Another hot topic for Jenkins will be the citing of future schools. Jenkins would like to see the City Council and the School Board work hand-in-hand in deciding where new schools are placed.

“I want to do things to open up avenues of information,” said Jenkins.

Because the LUZ Committee meets at virtually the same time as the School Board, Jenkins said it will be virtually impossible for her to attend a School Board meeting. However, she gets the Board’s agenda and plans to have to have some type of input into each meeting.

“I also want to have a joint meeting between the entire Board and Council before the end of the year,” said Jenkins. “I want us to see what we have done and see what we need to do.”

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