School board elects new officers; Holloway addresses LINK proposal

James Carskadon
Staff Writer

The Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Board of Trustees has a new president after Tuesday’s meeting.
During the annual officer elections, Jenny Turner was voted president of the board unanimously by her fellow board members for a one-year term, marking the end of Eddie Myles’ term as president.
Keith Coble was voted into the position of vice president, Anne Stricklin was named board secretary and Lee Brand was named assistant secretary. Myles will finish out his term on the school board as a board member. No opposition was made to any of the position recommendations.
In other business, the school board approved a new district personal social networking policy. The new policy requires that all electronic communication between school district employees and student parents be transparent, accessible and professional. The policy also prohibits fraternization between district employees and students.
The policy, which was largely authored by the district’s Teacher Advisory Committee, was much less controversial than a previous version of the policy that was before the board last fall. The previous proposed policy, authored by the Mississippi School Board Association, drew criticism from teachers and parents.
“I strongly prefer this version over the version we were given,” Coble said. “This is a much more common sense approach.”
Turner said she has only received positive feedback on the new policy.
Superintendent Lewis Holloway briefly addressed the possibility presented by the Golden Triangle Development LINK Monday of building an industrial park on over 100 acres of 16th Section land owned by the school district. The site was one of three locations considered for a possible industrial park. Under the LINK’s proposal, the city of Starkville and Oktibbeha County would purchase approximately 100 acres of land near the Starkville airport from the school district.
“It’s right beside the airport,” Holloway said. “We have some people discuss about businesses coming in there. Those leases would have to be a minimum of 30-year leases ... There’s probably only about 150 acres that’s buildable without getting into wetlands, but it’s very accessible. It is a piece of property that we had kind of talked about in the back of our minds of a school being there one day because it is so centrally located.”
Holloway added that he would not “get too excited” until city and county officials decide which potential industrial site they would like to move forward on. The LINK is hopeful to have a site picked out in the next 45 days.
The board approved the sale of 1.65 acres of land in Longview to Pinebelt, Inc., which intends to build a Dollar General, according to Holloway. Pinebelt will pay $25,000 for the land if the deal is finalized. The item was tabled at the board’s last meeting to give community members a chance to express any concerns. Holloway said he did not receive any complaints from the Longview community.
The district has found a replacement for Director of Student Support Services Wanda Porter, who is retiring. Holloway recommended Julia Jones, who is currently the director of special services and testing for the Philadelphia School District, to replace Porter.
Holloway also noted that interviews to fill the newly-created assistant superintendent for personnel and grades 8-12 curriculum instruction will begin Wednesday.