Barrett named city schools superintendent

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, August 18, 2004

A local educator with 25 years of teaching and administrativeexperience has been named the superintendent of the BrookhavenSeparate School District.

Lea Barrett was chosen by school trustees Tuesday night after anextensive search that began in April.

“We are proud to announce the appointment of Mrs. Lea Barrett asthe district’s next superintendent,” board President Dr. PrentissSmith said in a prepared statement this morning. Barrett was one of30 applicants in an extensive search that reached across thecountry. Barrett has served as deputy superintendent of theBrookhaven district since 1998.

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“The board choose Mrs. Barrett due to her extensive knowledge ofthe Brookhaven School District, her ability to perform assuperintendent, her ability to work well with the MississippiSchool of the Arts, as well as the respect she already has fromteachers and administrators in the district. She is a perfect fit,”Smith said.

Barrett’s official start date will be Sept. 1.

“I am looking forward to continue building this school system,”Barrett said this morning. “I am following a superintendent with alegacy of high expectations and impressive accomplishments, and Iintend to build on that legacy.

“Our focus will be towards academic achievement because suchgood groundwork has already been laid and the district is in suchgood shape.” Barrett added. “There is no reason that we should nothave all schools at a level 4 with some reaching a level 5. Theparents expect it, and our students are capable of producing atthat level.”

Barrett said one of the biggest challenges of the coming yearwill be the financial situation this next year with expected cutsby the Legislature for Mississippi Adequate Education Programfunding. “It is going to be a challenge to me and the board,” shesaid.

Smith praised the school board for its efforts in reaching thedecision and the efforts of interim Superintendent JamesTillman.

“We have worked many long hours reviewing and interviewing theapplicants with the single goal of doing what is best for thechildren. The fact that we received so many applications is anindication of the quality and respect our system has not onlyacross the state but the nation, as well. We also appreciate thetireless efforts of Mr. Tillman in guiding the district in aseamless fashion during this process.”

Smith said Mr. Tillman will return to his duties as deputysuperintendent.

Barrett is a native of Yazoo City.

After graduating from Mississippi College, she returned to theYazoo City schools as a teacher. She was later named principal ofYazoo City High School then assistant superintendent of the YazooCity school system. In 1995, she joined the Brookhaven schoolsystem as principal of the Vo-Tech Center. In 1998, she was nameddeputy superintendent.

She replaces Dr. Sam Bounds, who resigned in April afteraccepting a position with the State Superintendents Associationafter serving as the Brookhaven district’s superintendent for 10years.