Meet the six school board hopefuls
A forester, a PhD, an artist, a Navy veteran, a retired businesswoman and a legal assistant have all asked to be considered for appointment to the county school board for the Bogue Chitto area.
Brown Forestry owner Perry Brown, counselor Barbara Buie, artist and stay-at-home mother Stephanie Davis Holmes, Navy veteran and technology professional Brian Magee, retiree and substitute teacher Debbie Thompson, and legal assistant Dallas Wallace have applied to the Lincoln County School District Board of Trustees, seeking appointment to represent Educational District 3. The board sought applicants until noon Wednesday in its search to find a new member to fill the year remaining in the unexpired term of former board member Ricky Welch, who resigned Sept. 10.
The board has until Nov. 2 to make the appointment, but its only scheduled meeting before that deadline is Monday at 5 p.m. at the district office. The board could make the appointment then.
State law allows the board to offer the job to anyone who lives within the boundaries of ED3. These are the six Bogue Chitto-area residents who have said, “I want the job.”
Perry Brown said he’s interested in representing ED3 because Bogue Chitto Attendance Center is the “center point in our community,” and he’s invested in that community.
Brown, 50, graduated from Mississippi State in 1990 with a degree in forestry and runs his family’s business, Brown Forestry, along with his son, Scotty Brown. His daughter, Meleah Brown Howard, is the softball coach of Copiah-Lincoln Community College. He is married to Vasie Quin Brown.
“I feel like I have a lot to offer,” Brown said. “I’ve been in business here for 20 years and I feel like I have some experience to offer to the board, especially with the timber industry. The board does a lot of 16th Section business, and I’m very familiar with that side of things.”
Brown pointed out he has four grandchildren headed to Bogue Chitto in the coming years — two will start kindergarten as Bobcats next year. He believes the Lincoln County School District is one of the state’s best systems, and wants a chance to be involved in its management.
“I just want to help keep it going,” he said. “If they don’t choose me to serve on the board, that’s fine, too. I’m still going to be a supporter of Bogue Chitto.”
Barbara Buie is the oldest applicant for school board at 65, and also the most experienced.
She holds doctorates in urban higher education and theology, and has 25 years of teaching experience ranging from general and special education in public schools, which she taught in the Brookhaven and North Pike districts; Head Start programs; home schooling; and adult education with the Mississippi Department of Mental Health. She preaches at Focus Community Word Church in Bogue Chitto, is married to Bishop Joe Buie, and has three grandchildren and a “host” of nieces and nephews in school at Bogue Chitto.
“I agree with President (George W.) Bush when he said no child left behind, and that’s the way I feel,” Buie said. “I feel like I can serve as an ambassador for the children and help the school district get to where it needs to be — not saying where we are now is not a good place, but we know that everything changes, and education should change for the better.”
Buie said she will advocate for change in the school system, and specifically for the expansion of after-school tutoring classes that feature small groups for one-on-one instruction with students who are having academic trouble.
“I can bring a wealth of knowledge and years of understanding of leadership,” she said. “I’m a people person, and I understand that in order to work with the children you have to work with the parents.”
Stephanie Davis Holmes
Stephanie Davis Holmes, 45, is a stay-at-home mom who is very involved in Bogue Chitto — she sends four children there every day, in grades 10, 8, 4 and 2. Though she has a degree in sociology from Mississippi College, she focuses on raising her family while her husband, Tim Holmes, works out of town. Holmes minored in art in college, and helped Bogue Chitto’s seniors design and paint their personalized parking spots to start the year.
Holmes said she was planning to support Tate McCaffrey for appointment to the school board, but after he was found ineligible because he lives in ED4, she decided to make a try herself. If appointed to the board, she said she would lobby for career programs at each county school — or one vo-tech center for all county students — and the expansion of art programs.
“Not every student is geared toward an academic future,” Holmes said. “If we open the doors for vo-tech, we’re opening up a whole new avenue for our students. And we need art and band in our schools. There’s a lot of avenues for students there.”
Brian Magee is also a career programs supporter. The 40-year-old information technology specialist with the Mississippi Department of Human Services spent 13 years in the U.S. Navy. He’s married to Vicki Boone Magee, and they have two daughters — age 16 and 11 — in school at Bogue Chitto.
“Not every kid is academic, not every kid is an athlete, and we need to find programs for children who don’t fit into those categories, to better fit them when they get out of school,” Magee said. “I want to do my part to make sure our kids are getting everything they need.”
Magee believes his experience in the military and his training in technology give him a unique skillset to offer the school board, but there’s one quality he won’t bring — silence.
“I’m not one who will just bite my tongue, or follow the status quo. When I feel something is wrong, I’m going to step up for our community and try to represent us in the best way possible,” he said. “I’m a listener, and I’m going to listen to what the community has to say.”
Debbie Thompson, 63, is retired after spending 31 years at Delphi Packard Electric — so is her husband, David Thompson. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business education from Southern Miss, and worked for several years as a substitute teacher in the Lincoln County School District. She has great-nieces who attend Enterprise, and her own grandchildren, still too young for kindergarten, attend daycare at Easthaven Baptist Church.
“I believe our children deserve to have a safe, comfortable environment in which to be educated, and I would like to see them prepared not just be taking tests,” Thompson said. “I want all our children, regardless of who they are, to be given an opportunity for a good education.”
Thompson said she would like to see the school board operate more transparently to the public.
“I just want to make sure we have honest representation for the people, and that things would be as transparent as possible for parents, children and our teachers and staff who work in the school system,” she said.
Dallas Wallace is the youngest school board applicant at 31. She is a legal assistant for attorney Heather Martin and the mother of a full household — Wallace and her husband, Cory, have two children of their own and are raising three nephews and a niece after a death in the family. Two of the six are too young for school, but the other four attend Bogue Chitto, where Wallace graduated in 2005 after moving to the area as a teenager from Rose Bud, Arkansas.
Wallace said her children have textbooks at school, but are not allowed to bring them home. If appointed to the school board, she would campaign for the district to spend more money on books.
“I have one child with ADHD, and sometimes we need a book. But they can’t take a book home unless a teacher comes up with a spare,” she said. “There’s got to be a grant out there to help us obtain these books, and I want to be able to help with that.”
Wallace said she also wants the district to hire special needs teachers who can work with children with dyslexia.
“I want our children to know if they have a problem, they can come to me and I can try to help them,” she said.