Okolona to interview potential superintendents

1STOCK _Education UPDATE AppleBooksDeskOKOLONA — The three finalists for superintendent of the Okolona schools will attend a town hall meeting Sunday.

Okolona School Board president Jerome Smith said the board wants to keep the community informed of their decisions and direction as they seek to guide the school district out from under state conservatorship.

“Picking a superintendent is a big job and one we take seriously,” said Smith. “We have been meeting just about every week as a board to get up to speed and to go about the process of hiring a superintendent.”

The new five-member Okolona School District Board of Trustee, made up of Smith, Sara L. Jenkins, William “Bill” Stewart, William E. Bailey and Nancy Sullivan, were seated in December.

Smith said the board felt allowing the public to be part of the process of selecting a superintendent would help unite the community behind the district’s new local leader.

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.

Nine people applied for the position Okolona School District Superintendent and the school board has trimmed that list to three.

A community forum was held Feb. 28 to gather input and a list of questions to be asked at Sunday’s meeting. More than 60 parents, teachers, community leaders and students attended that meeting and offered potential questions. The district has continued to take questions and will let candidates for superintendent review those questions before Sunday’s event.

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

The district came out from under state sanctions last summer. Smith says the new board has made selecting a new superintendent a top priority.

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.”

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