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August 3--  There will be three new faces on the five-member Montgomery County school board in January and the outgoing board chairman hopes the new board can bring the community together.

Deloris James says that's one reason she decided not to run for re-election.

"Maybe part of the distraction has been political and I did think about the fact that if I removed myself that might make some people have a better view of the school system," she says.

The school system just came off a year of accreditation probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), but James says there's still work to do.

"I just hope that having gone through the SACS process that everybody will read the SACS report and understand the main thing in there still is that the board of education and the community need to find a way to come together  for the best interest of the students, their education and the entire county," James says.

No matter who's on the school board, James says the school system's financial status is bleak and she believes there's no way around raising school property taxes.

"It is just a fact.  The millage rate for schools in Montgomery County is 12.1 mils and that is going to go up.  Those school taxes are going to 15 mils if we want to keep our equalization grant, and there's no way to operate without that equalization money," she reports.

"We hope that the community and all of the stakeholders will see we are doing the best we can given the financial constraints we are working under," she says.