Brookhaven School District names new superintendent

Published 7:30 pm Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Veteran Hattiesburg School District educator Dr. LisaKarmacharya will trade in her Tiger purple and gold for Pantherblue and red after being named the new superintendent of theBrookhaven School District.

The city school board announced the decision Tuesday after afive-month search.

“The board was unanimous in this decision,” said Carl Aycock,vice chairman of the district’s board of trustees. “We’re all veryexcited about having her lead our district.”

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Karmacharya, who is currently serving as the executive directorof federal programs for the Hattiesburg district, said she hasalready spoken with her interim superintendent about being releasedfrom her current contract. She mentioned that things look promisingto begin her new job as Brookhaven superintendent on March 1.

“My peers, my co-workers, my superiors, everyone has beenincredibly supportive,” said Karmacharya. “They arebitter-sweet.”

The Brookhaven school board combed through dozens ofapplications for its top administration job after currentSuperintendent Lea Barrett announced her retirement in August.

The board interviewed seven of the 27 applicants just beforeChristmas. Because of such a close race, board members decided tore-interview two of the candidates.

The re-interviews and a decision of who would be offered thesuperintendent’s position occurred on Saturday. Aycock said Tuesdaythe board’s decision was not revealed in a Monday discussion onsearch progress in an effort to protect the candidates who were notinvolved in the final two interviews.

Aycock also mentioned that Karmacharya was the number one choicegoing into Saturday’s re-interviews, and she was the clear choiceat the day’s end.

“There were no surprises at the second interview,” said Aycock.”Nobody wavered and everybody’s prior conclusions were confirmed,and we feel like we’ve chosen the best person for the district atthis time.”

Aycock said a phone call was made on Monday to Karmacharya tooffer her the job.

“I think I was in shock immediately,” Karmacharya said about thephone call. “I am so excited to have the opportunity and be a partof a winning district.”

Karmacharya, 49, is from Brandon and has studied at several ofMississippi’s in-state universities. She received her undergraduatedegree in special education while at Ole Miss, earned a master’sdegree from Mississippi College in supervision in instruction andacquired her doctorate degree from the University of Mississippi ineducation leadership.

However, Bulldogs have no reason to worry about Karmacharya’sRebel and Golden Eagle ties. Her husband of 10 years, AnjanKarmacharya, graduated from Mississippi State University with adegree in education.

With a resume that boasts roughly 17 years of experience ineducation, Karmacharya is thrilled about donning the blue and redand learning the friendly faces around town.

“I am really looking forward to a new challenge and being a partof the Brookhaven community,” she said. “There are new no words todescribe how excited (my husband and I) really are.”

Aycock said Karmacharya’s salary was yet to be determined, butwould be based on the strength of her application and relatedexperience. However, he said the average salary of superintendentsin Mississippi is around $100,000 a year.

While the race saw numerous applicants throw their hat in thesuperintendent ring, Karmacharya said it was the match of herambitious personality and the town’s spirit that is bringing her toHomeseekers Paradise.

“I know Brookhaven is a good place (to live),” saidKarmacharya.

“I felt that with my experience and the qualifications I have,that I was the right fit for Brookhaven and I could take up whereLea is leaving off.”

Barrett will not be leaving just yet. Aycock said she would stayinvolved in the upcoming months to help during the transitionperiod.