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Help Offered For Superintendent Search

Elementary school parent Kagan Coughlin (left) appeared on the school board agenda Monday night to discuss the superintendent search. – Photo by Jack Gurner

By Jack Gurner

 WATER VALLEY – Com-munity members are offering to help with the search for a new superintendent, school board trustees learned Monday night.

Elementary school parent Kagan Couglin appeared before the board at the regular monthly meeting for February and presented some ideas that have been circulating among school system stakeholders.

“I’ve had a dozen or more conversations with folks who are interested in finding the best candidate – like I’m sure everybody at this table is – as Mr. Chrestman’s successor,” said Coughlin, referring to current superintendent, Kim Chrestman, who announced his resignation at last month’s meeting.

He noted that he and others had looked at the contract with the Mississippi School Board Association and there was concern that the process was a little passive. “They’re looking for folks to apply to them for the position,” Couglin continued.

He suggested that members of the community help locate candidates who would be excellent for the town and give people the opportunity to “go and woe them.”

“Pitch Water Valley as a place to come to rather than waiting for them to come to us,” Couglin said. “We have lots of people in this town who can sing the praises of Water Valley and have first-hand experiences of why we chose here.”

School Board President Taylor Trusty said, “Speaking for myself, anybody that you or anybody else feel would make a good candidate, we would welcome them to apply. But, they are going to have to go through the Mississippi School Board Association to do so.”

“They don’t have to wait for the Mississippi School Board Association to call them,” Trusty emphasized, “But, they will have to go through that application process and that vetting.”

Trusty explained that the district has a contract with the MSBA to help with the selection process. So, all candidates will be required to apply through them. “They do have knowledge of people who are qualified for superintendent. They will go to them and encourage them to apply,” he said.

Hiring Process

He then described the process, starting with the application. If the candidate is qualified, they move to the next step, which is an MSBA interview. From there the candidates are broken down into three categories: those who meet all the requirements and would make a good superintendent; those who somewhat meet the requirements; and those who do not meet the requirements.

Trusty said that the school board can choose from any of those three groups. But, the best candidates are going to come from the first group who have been interviewed, had their references checked and who are qualified to be a superintendent in Missis-sippi.

After some additional discussion of the process, including the confidentiality that is needed for some candidates who are currently employed, Trusty said, “This is the most important task that this board takes on.”

As the discussion concluded, Trustee Cayce Wash-ington thanked Coughlin for his interest. “You’re the type of people I like to see with kids in our school. That’s how our community grows…people who are willing to make an investment in the community.”

Among other actions at the Feb. 16 meeting, trustees:

• Approved donations from Liz Reynolds, Tommy Reynolds, Upton Reynolds, Mechanics Bank, Borg-Warner, Rotary Club, Pam and Bill Taylor, Renasant Bank, Hill’s Construction and North Mississippi Herald for the reading initiative.

• Heard the superintendent read a proclamation from Governor Phil Bryant recognizing the school board members during National School Member Recognition Board Week.

• Paid claims and received a financial report from district business manager Randy. Goodwin, who said that the fund balance stands at $1,219,173.64.

• Heard the superintendent’s report from Chrest-man, who told trustees that Davidson Elementary School participated in the PARCC practice tests and everything went extremely well.

He continued that DES is planning a parent/community meeting on Thursday, Feb. 19, at 5:30 in the DES cafeteria, which will cover the kindergarten end of year assessment, the 3rd grade summative assessment and the Good Cause Exemption. Parents will be provided information on how to assist in preparing students for the assessments.

Chrestman congratulated Mu Alpha Theta Math students for their success at  the math competition held at Blue Mountain College.  Sam Dunn placed 2nd in Geometry and the team placed 3rd overall in Geometry, he noted. 

Instructor Steve Lindsey took three students to the SkillsUSA competition at Northwest Community Col-lege. Three students placed: Nick Williams, first in carpentry/framing; Bryan Wilhite, first in cabinet making and Drew Gentry,  second in electrical wiring.

The next board meeting, the only one scheduled for next month, is March 23.

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