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Lincoln County School Board seeks input for new leader

The Lincoln County School Board is asking its stakeholders — administrators, teachers, parents, business owners and residents — for help choosing a new superintendent for the district.

Mickey Myers, who was first elected to the position in 2015, will retire in June. Myers had intended to step down at the end of the year when his term ends, but agreed to the board’s request to finish out the school year.

The board will hire Myers on a six-month contract when his elected four-year term is up at the end of the year.

The Mississippi School Boards Association, hired by the board in March, will facilitate three stakeholder meetings Aug. 15 to gather input from specific groups regarding the qualifications and characteristics they want to see the district’s superintendent, who will oversee the Loyd Star, Bogue Chitto, Enterprise and West Lincoln attendance centers as well as the district office.

The groups will also be asked to suggest priorities for the district.

Meetings Aug. 15 will be divided into three groups: principals and district office administrators will meet at the Lincoln County Central Office at 2 p.m., teachers and all other staff will meet at the Lincoln Civic Center at 4 p.m. and parents, business and community stakeholders will meet at the civic center at 6 p.m.

For those unable to attend the meetings, an online survey will also be available on the MSBA website for two weeks following the face-to-face stakeholder meetings.

Board members will use the stakeholder feedback to develop interview questions for the applicants and as a foundation for making the decision as to who will be the new superintendent.

Board President Billy Vaughn said he is interested to hear what the community wants for its administrative leader.

“This, to me, if it’s not the biggest decision we will make as a board, it’s one of the top three or four at least. This will affect our school system for years to come,” he said.

A 2016 law changed all public school district superintendents to appointees. At the time, 55 of the state’s 144 school districts elected their superintendents. The new law requires school boards to appoint superintendents after their current terms end.

Myers said in March he did not believe Jan. 1 would be a good time to bring in a new superintendent.

“No team changes coaches at halftime, but that’s what you’ll end up doing here in the school system like it is,” he said then.

MSBA Executive Director Michael Waldrop told the board in March to qualify for an appointed superintendent position, candidates must have been a principal in an A or B school for three years, been a principal in a school that moved the accountability level one level and maintained it for three consecutive years or been a superintendent or an assistant superintendent in the last five years.

Under the new law there is also an alternative process, which says the candidate can qualify if he or she has been in a leadership position for six years or more. That includes directors in the district and state level, successful business owners and military personnel of a certain rank.

Whoever they choose is likely going to cost taxpayers more money. Myers, one of the lower-paid elected superintendents in the state, receives an annual salary of $110,000.

“There are a lot of openings. I’ve never seen anything like it since I’ve been doing this,” Waldrop said in March. “Generally, the salaries are going up because you’re in a competitive market now. It’s a buyer’s market because there’s so many of these jobs available.”

On Dec. 31, with his accumulated sick leave, Myers will have over 38 years in the retirement system. Even after his retirement, Myers doesn’t want to leave the district completely. As a former Bogue Chitto teacher, coach, assistant principal and principal, he could see himself back in a classroom someday.

“I can see me teaching again, if they (legislators) ever get it where retirees can teach,” he said earlier this year. “I miss the day-to-day interaction with children.”