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This story was updated Wednesday, April 10, 2019, at 8:33 p.m.

Board of Education member John Turner resigned Monday, saying his presence at meetings was only creating animosity.

Turner, who was first elected in 2012, was the only board member who voted against returning the Chattooga County school district to a five-day school week. The decision has led to protests among parents, students and staff.

"The way I see it, we need a flag of peace," Turner told the Times Free Press this morning.

Board members John Agnew, Brad Hayes and Julia Houston did not immediately return a call seeking comment about Turner's decision.

Probate Judge Jon Payne, the supervisor of elections, said that the other board members will be able to appoint a replacement for Turner, who represented Summerville. His term runs through 2020.

This is the second time Turner has announced his resignation. He walked out of a work session March 14 after the board declined to discuss issuing a survey to the community, asking whether people supported a five-day school week. (Hayes abstained from the vote).

Turner changed his mind a couple days later. At the time, he said people urged him to be the lone dissenting voice.

"This current board doesn't have the capacity to listen," he said. "There will be tough decisions down the road. If they don't listen, there will be chaos. The kids will be the ones to suffer. It pains me."

Concerning the March 14 meeting, when Turner walked out, Agnew said board members didn't want to "exasperate" the debate further."

He said the board had listened to 1 1/2 hours of discussion about the school schedule at previous meetings. Also, three new board members were elected in November. They campaigned on returning to a five-day week.

Agnew was not sure whether Turner's resignation would bring more peace to meetings. He also is unsure when the board will select a replacement.

"With all the things going on," Agnew said, "it may be a little harder than in normal times."

Chattooga County schools have operated on a four-day week since the fall of 2010, skipping classes on Mondays. While they are the only district in Northwest Georgia, some systems in other states use this schedule. Advocates point out it saves money on expenses like utility bills, gas for buses and the salaries of non-certified employees, such as custodians and administrative assistants.

Superintendent Jim Lenderman, who has occupied the district's top post since August 2011, said the schedule boosts morale among students and staff. He said taking Mondays off also helps him recruit teachers.

Houston, an early education professor at Shorter University, said the schedule impacts student performance. She believes more third-graders will read at grade level if they go to school five days a week.

The students are actually in class longer with the four-day schedule, since each day is longer. But Houston argues those days are not efficient. Young students need more consistent, shorter periods of learning to retain information, she said.

Since the board's vote Jan. 17, to return to a five-day week beginning this fall, opponents to the change have asked them to reverse course. They started a Change.org petition and have flooded public meetings to criticize the decision.

Last month, Lenderman announced his resignation, effective April 30. He said the board will have to make budget cuts to return to a five-day week, though the board has not made those decisions yet.

Chattooga County High School students held a protest, walking out of class or their lunch period to protest the board's decision. Lenderman told the students in advance he supported their action and that no protester would be punished.

Some residents have also begun the process to recall Agnew. To put an item to an actual vote, the opponents need about 4,000 signatures from registered voters. But before they can try that, Agnew has filed a petition in superior court, asking a judge to toss out the recall legion. Agnew argues there is no legal grounds for his ouster.

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