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Smith departing as BHS principal

Brookhaven High School Principal Dr. Jay Smith resigned Tuesday morning, having accepted a position as assistant superintendent with the North Pike School District.

     “This is the logical next step. It’s a move up for me professionally,” Smith said Tuesday afternoon. “After 16 years as a principal, I’m ready for new challenges.”

     Smith’s contract with the Brookhaven School District ends June 30. He will begin his new position at North Pike July 1.

     Superintendent Dr. Lisa Karmacharya echoed Smith’s remarks in discussing his departure.

     “It’s an opportunity for him to continue his professional growth,” Karmacharya said Tuesday afternoon.

     At approximately 2,500 students, the North Pike District is a little smaller than the Brookhaven district.

     Smith completes four years as principal at BHS. Previously, he worked seven years as a principal at Gary Road Elementary School in Hinds County.

     Smith had positive words about the district he’s leaving. He singled out the community’s involvement with and support of public education for praise.

     “You don’t find that everywhere you go,” Smith said.

     Smith said he’s proud to leave a record of success at BHS.

     “Obviously, the most important thing we’ve been able to accomplish is being able to be a high performing school for two consecutive years,” Smith said. “Without question that’s the biggest feather in our cap.”

     For the 2010-11 and 2009-10 school years, BHS was ranked as “high performing” by the Mississippi Department of Education, the second-highest rating possible. For the 2010-11 school year, BHS was the only district school rated as high performing.

     Rankings for the 2011-12 school year have not been released yet.

     Smith ran for superintendent of Lincoln County last year, but did not advance to the Democratic primary runoff in August, which incumbent Terry Brister went on to win.

     Though Karmacharya received Smith’s formal resignation Tuesday morning, she said it was no surprise. Smith previously discussed the matter with her.

     Karmacharya said she hopes the vacancy at BHS can be filled as soon as possible.

     “That’s one of our flagship schools and we need a strong leader,” Karmacharya said. “The sooner the better to fill that position so we can get them on board and get them up to speed on where we are and where we’re headed.”

     Karmacharya said the district would begin advertising for applicants beginning today. Since new contracts for administrative staff are supposed to begin July 1, Karmacharya said the position needs to be filled by then.

     Ideally, the superintendent said she’d like the board to approve a new hire at its May 22 board meeting, but she admitted that goal may be overly optimistic.

     After its May meeting, the Brookhaven School Board holds its next regularly scheduled meeting on June 19. A special called meeting may be necessary at an earlier date in June to approve a hire, the superintendent said.

     Karmacharya outlined high expectations for Smith’s replacement.

     “It needs to be someone who obviously understands teaching and learning and has a strong instructional background,” Karmacharya said. “This person needs to be flexible. This person needs to be willing to hold his staff accountable.”