The Simpson County School Board was forced to meet by Zoom last Thursday after an outbreak of Covid-19 hit eight members of the central office staff, including Superintendent Dr. Toriano Holloway.
Because of some technical issues, the board rescheduled some of the agenda items such as financial reports.
The board approved a hunting lease for a section of land in the amount of $15.63 per acre. Tom McAlpin, who manages 16 Section land for the district, said this was the highest lease amount the county has received for hunting. The lease represents an entire section of 640 acres.
The board approved an approximate 12 percent raise for certified personnel in the school district. Employees holding positions that do not require certification are not included.
The raise reflects what the state legislature approved for teachers, which amounted to between $5,000 and $6,000 per year. The board indicated their intention to review non-certified employees.
Because of increased costs the board refused the bid for the Mendenhall Cafetorium through federal Covid funding. The bid for Simpson Central at $8.4 million was accepted with modifications and reductions to original plans. One of the modifications was the change of the color of the metal roofing from a special color to a standard color, resulting in an $80,000 savings.
The board approved travel for Dr. Antionette Woodall, principal of SCS, and Bill Broadhead, principal of Magee High School, to attend a learning conference in Washington D.C. Principal Romonica Feazell of Mendenhall High School had planned to attend, but employment issues prevented approval of the trip.
Dr. Bo Huffman, Tracye Pierre, Maron Lacey, Paul Lawrence. Derrickia Thomas and Duriel Banks were approved for travel to an administrative retreat in Biloxi in July.
The board approved hiring Dr. Furlinda Travis to replace Dr. Robert Sanders as assistant superintendent of schools. She is coming to Simpson County from Holmes County Consolidated School District. Dr. Holloway had worked previously with her in Clarke County School District.
The board also approved hiring Frank Terry as the new principal for Mendenhall High School.
There were plans to hire a new assistant principal at Magee Middle School. Dr. Sanders announced that the job was offered but turned down by the applicant.
Sharonda Jones has been named assistant principal at Mendenhall Elementary. Dr. Maron Lacey, formerly assistant principal at Magee High School, is being promoted to principal at Mendenhall Jr. High. Former MJHS principal Sydney Magee is moving to Magee High as assistant principal.
Both Pierre, principal of Magee Middle School, and Sydney Magee announced they are awaiting state test results to determine status of their schools. Because of low scores at both schools, they have been required to report to the board monthly on progress. The state is expected to release new achievement scores in June.
Superintendent Holloway reported that the first four days of training for principals and staff training have been completed. He said a committee is being named to identify the skills and abilities graduating students have and what a “portrait” of that student would look like.
The board plans a special called meeting for 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 19, to complete agenda items that were not approved at the May 12 meeting. The superintendent announced the creation of a student advisory committee that will work with the superintendent to address the needs of students.
The board has plans to have board meetings at three different campuses next year. The dates were not discussed.