Thursday, March 16, 2006

Upbeat talk dominates school board meeting


Positive comments were prevalent Thursday night during the meeting of the Holly Springs School District Board of Trustees.

Irene Walton, interim superintendent of education, filled that chair for the first time in a regular monthly meeting since the dismissal of Cynthia Gentry in late February. Walton is the former principal at Holly Springs Intermediate School, and many on the staff there were in attendance to show support. The small boardroom was packed, with others sitting in the hallway.

Sherna Stone, PTA president at the Intermediate School, thanked Walton for taking the position during tough circumstances.

“I appreciate you being willing to step up to the plate and make decisions in the best interest of our children,” Stone said.

“I urge the board and the community to support Ms. Walton. We need to go forward and be pro-active. I hope the community and board will join together and make this district better.”

Edythe Taylor praised the school board, the administration and the teachers.

“I want to compliment the board,” Taylor said. “You have my full support. We have to trust in somebody.

“Teachers, you are beautiful people. I compliment you on the job you are doing.”

School board member Martha Thomas said Holly Springs has a “wonderful school system, with great teachers and excellent students.”

She said she was recently walking down the street with a heavy box near the tourism office, when a Holly Springs student came out of the library and asked, “Ma’am, do you need help with that box?”

He carried the box for her a full block.

“We have good students in this town,” Thomas said.

Walton, in beginning her superintendent’s report, thanked the board for allowing her to serve as interim superintendent.

“I’m from Holly Springs; I was born here,” she said. “I feel the Holly Springs School District is a part of me, not just a job. I will work to keep our children first.”

Board member Paul Lampley said, “We’re all in this ball game together. It’s great to see all these faces here tonight.”

The board elected officers for the next year. Michael Crittle was elected president, replacing Thomas. Thomas moves to secretary, and the new vice president is Ray Von Autry. All votes on the nominated officers were unanimous. Board member Alonzo McClinton was absent.

“We asked for your prayers, your support and your commitment,” Crittle said. “We ask you to be open with us, and we will be open with you. We ask you to be honest with us, and we will be honest with you. We ask everyone to respect one another and do this with dignity and honor.”

In other business, the school board:

  • Announced an award based on the hours of training board members received in the past year.
  • Accepted two out-of-district students.
  • Approved an expenditure of $7,300 to repair the elevator at Holly Springs High School. Board members agreed the school must fix the only access method to the second floor of the building as soon as possible for handicapped students and/or visitors.
  • Approved the following personnel recommendations for the next year – Mary Kenerson, special education director; Jones Mays, technology coordinator; Frederick Prowell, food service administrator; and Beverly Thompson, business manager.
  • Questioned head coach Naylond Hayes about two concerns associated with the basketball team’s recent trip to the Nike Hardwood Classic in Memphis, Tenn. Hayes answered the questions, which involved post-game interviews and recognition. He referred to team policy. Hayes also said he did not want to play another game outside of Mississippi. There were concerns about the contract with the Nike Hardwood Classic and the amount of money Holly High received. The board instructed the superintendent and principal to investigate future contracts to make sure they are “in the best interest of the school.”
  • Heard a report from Walton about preparations for the upcoming Mississippi Curriculum Tests and Subject Area Testing. She said instruction is being monitored at all levels, and everyone is working toward the district’s goals.
    • “Hopefully, we will do the best we can do,” she said.
    • She said results from the MCT sample test will be used to develop intervention plans for grades, classes and students; design after-school and in-school remediation and enrichment activities; schedule computerized instruction to meet the needs of students experiencing difficulties; and organize support staff, tutors and volunteers to help with areas of weaknesses.
  • Heard a report from Walton that disciplinary action through the high school ticket program is apparently not being entered in the Mississippi Student Information System, as required.
  • Asked Thompson to tweak the current school year budget for presentation at the next meeting after her presentation unveiled likely shortfalls in areas such as superintendent supplies, superintendent travel and gasoline.
  • Announced the hearing concerning the termination of Dr. Gentry is set for 9 a.m. Friday, March 24, and Monday, March 27, at the meeting room of the board of supervisors on the courtsquare in Holly Springs.
  • Went into executive session to discuss the assistant superintendent’s contract.

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