Okolona to interview superintendent candidates

Dr. Jerome Smith, President of the Okolona School Board of Trustees, speaks to parents, teachers and students at a community forum Thursday night designed to help pick a new superintendent for Okolona schools. (Photo by Floyd Ingram)

Dr. Jerome Smith, President of the Okolona School Board of Trustees, speaks to parents, teachers and students at a community forum Thursday night designed to help pick a new superintendent for Okolona schools.
(Photo by Floyd Ingram)

OKOLONA – The community will get a chance to pose questions to the three finalists for superintendent of Okolona schools at a town hall meeting March 17.

A community forum was held Feb. 28 to gather input and a list of questions to be asked at that meeting as Okolona takes the steps necessary to regain local control of its schools from the state.

“We are working hard not to move too quickly and we don’t want to move too slowly, either,” said Dr. Jerome Smith, newly appointed president of the Okolona School Board of Trustees. “We also want the community to be involved and are working to keep them informed of this process.”

The Okolona district was remanded into conservatorship in February 2010 due to poor academic rankings and financial instability. The school board was dissolved and the superintendents’ post vacated with a state conservator installed.

The district came out from under state sanctions last summer and a new board of trustees was installed in December. The new board has made selecting a new superintendent to head up the day-to-day operations of the school system a top priority.

More than 60 parents, teachers, community leaders and students attended Thursday’s meeting. The goal of the community forum was to gather a list of questions to be asked candidates for superintendent.

“It is my understanding there have been nine candidates for the position and the school board is working for about 30 days to trim that list down to three,” said Chickasaw County Supervisor Russell Brooks, meeting facilitator. “We will take these questions and see what the most frequently asked questions are and hand that list to the school board.”

Brooks pointed out trustees will have the final decision in hiring a superintendent.

“The success of our students and this school system lies on the shoulders of this community,” said Brooks. “We want to know where the new superintendent stands on issues we think are important.”

State conservator Mac Curlee said he has been pleased with Okolona’s concern for their schools throughout the conservatorship process.

“There is no shortage of parent support for Okolona schools and parents, teachers and community leaders have taken an active role in this process from the start,” said Curlee. “I urge the community to support the school board and get on the same page. It is critical we all be in one accord in the new direction the district takes.”

The three finalists will be presented to the community at Rockwell Auditorium at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 17. The Okolona School Board of Trustees will direct the meeting and pose the questions to be asked.

Curlee said anyone wishing to ask specific questions should contact the Okolona School District Central Office immediately and formally present their questions in writing for consideration.

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