Smith offers parental voice on school board

Published 9:00 pm Sunday, February 26, 2012

Erin Smith hopes that when voters line up March 3 to select the newest member of the Brookhaven school board, they will add a parental voice.

     Smith, 33, faces Lea Barrett in a race to fill the seat of retiring board member Carl Aycock.

     The election will occur March 3 from 1 to 6 p.m. at the Brookhaven High School Gymnasium. Eligible voters must live within the Brookhaven School District but outside the Brookhaven city limits.

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     In an interview Thursday, Smith said if she is not elected then no board member will have a child in the K-12 school system, after May. Smith’s son Bryce, 5, attends Mamie Martin Elementary School.

     “As a parent, we follow what our children are involved in,” Smith said. “Once the K-12 stage in life passes, it is only human nature to possibly lose touch of the issues school-aged children and their parents face.”

     Smith currently holds several titles at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, including academic counselor, disability support services coordinator, adjunct instructor and Phi Theta Kappa adviser.

     Smith describes her work background as diverse and counts that as an asset for a board member. Thursday, she highlighted her experience administering a federal grant program at Co-Lin and helping operate a small business. Smith is co-owner with her husband, Brett, and vice president of Particular Poultry.

     “One of my main roles in our business is in the budget process and accounting aspect of our business,” Smith said. “

     Smith said that helps provide her with the knowledge she needs as a board trustee to deal with budget issues.

     Speaking of upcoming budget issues, Smith echoed the concerns of many area educators about Gov. Phil Bryant’s proposal that districts spend reserve funds. Smith said those funds should primarily be for maintaining infrastructure and purchasing equipment and textbooks.

     “I don’t believe that because our school district has practiced fiscal conservatism that we should be made to use these funds as a part of our adequate funding,” Smith said.

     In preparing the budget during tight times, Smith said a tax increase should be considered only as a last resort.

     “No one wants to raise taxes,” Smith said. “I will be very careful about approving any budget that increases taxes.”

     On dealing with the possibility of a smaller budget, Smith said it would be premature of her to suggest any specific cuts but outlined some guidelines to follow.

     “We should carefully consider streamlining any program that could be consolidated,” Smith said.

     Smith said promoting excellence in education has been the mission of her campaign, and budgeting should reflect that.

     “Children attend school for instruction first, so that area should be the last area cut,” the board hopeful said.

     She also described her background in community service and working with children as something she will draw on to make decisions as a board member. She has been president of Brookhaven’s Junior Auxiliary, worked with the Mamie Martin PTA and taught Sunday school among many other activities.

     “I love serving others,” Smith said.