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LCSB sets election cycle — District voting to commence in the fall

After several months of deliberation, the Lincoln County School Board has established an official election cycle that will get board members back on track.

Superintendent Mickey Myers suggested a plan in December that would put some board members’ seats on the ballot for a November election, with others following behind in 2020 and 2022.

Myers recommended in December that the seats held by District 1 member Kay Coon, District 2 member Johnny Hart and District 5 member Joanna Posey be chosen by popular vote.

He suggested District 1 and 2 board members serve six-year terms, while District 5’s board member would serve an unexpired term with the next election for a six-year term held in 2022.

District 3 and 4 seats would be up for grabs in 2020, based on Myers’ plan.

The board had been waiting for an opinion from Attorney General Jim Hood, but board attorney Jim Keith said the state left final approval in the hands of the Lincoln County School Board.

They voted Tuesday to accept the superintendent’s recommendation.

Keith had made a pitch in November to appoint board members to fill vacancies until what he deemed as the correct election date occurred.

That meant that Districts 1 and 2 would be appointed until 2023, Districts 3 and 4 were to be appointed until 2025 and District 5 wouldn’t be up for election until 2021.

If Keith’s plan had remained on the table, from 2019 to 2023, a majority of the board members would be appointed by the board and not elected by the public.

The appointed members would be the ones to appoint a superintendent in 2020.

Myers didn’t think that should be the case so he sifted through nearly four decades of public records researching the district’s election cycles, beginning with 1990 when districts were mandated to switch to single-member districts.

“In a nutshell, we came up with what we think the sequence ought to be based on the 1990 redistricting,” he said in December.

In other news at Tuesday’s meeting, after a recent inspection of the Loyd Star football field, Myers declared the facility unfit for long-term use. He recommended that the board approve an agreement with Dungan Engineering for the planning and design of a new football/soccer complex.

“There are some serious issues with the current field,” he said.

The board subsequently granted Myers’s request. He said the project would likely take several years to complete, and the present field would almost certainly be used for the 2018 football season.

“We won’t play football in the new one this fall. It would be nice if we could, but I just don’t see it happening that fast,” he said.

Financial Director Sam Stewart asked the board to endorse an amendment to the 2018 budget. The change would allow the county to purchase a new wheelchair-accessible bus at a cost of about $95,000. That’s roughly $20,000 more than a regular bus.

The vehicle will be a full-sized bus with wheelchair accessibility.

Stewart had planned in the next budget for the purchase of two new school buses, including one with wheelchair accessibility, however, he said a need for one arose this school year.

He explained that the district’s current wheelchair-accessible bus is nearly obsolete, and a new vehicle is badly needed.

“We’ve had a need arise with a student, and we thought it would be best to amend the current year budget for that purchase,” he said.

After a short discussion, board members unanimously consented to alter the current budget in favor of the purchase.

Later, while discussing 16th-section matters, the board elected to dispose of all leases expired for 10 years or longer. They also decided to advertise for bids on 12 hunting leases — totaling 2,479.22 acres — set to expire May 31.

A special-called meeting will be held Tuesday at noon at the district office on East Monticello Street to discuss the superintendent’s appraisal.

The next regular Lincoln County School Board meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. March 19 in the testing room at the Bogue Chitto Attendance Center.