By Monique Harrison

Daily Journal

The Lee County School Board unanimously approved a recommendation that current Mooreville High School interim Principal Robert Smith be named to the post permanently.

Smith replaces former principal Joe Loden, who requested a transfer to the assistant principal post at Verona School.

The 40-year-old is a 1973 Mooreville High graduate and is currently in his second year as assistant principal there. He coached football at the 1,053-student school from 1988-91. He has also worked at Shannon High School.

Smith said he was a little surprised by how quickly the board voted to replace Loden, who was transferred in mid-February.

“I’m a little surprised, but I’m excited about this opportunity,” he said. “My goal is to make this school one of the best in Mississippi. We’re going to work to keep improving steadily.”

The appointment came after the majority of teachers at Mooreville High signed a letter requesting Smith’s appointment.

In other business, the board also voted unanimously to hire a new fifth-grade teacher at Saltillo Elementary in an effort to ease classroom overcrowding.

The school currently has 172 fourth-grade students. Even with the hiring of a sixth teacher, the school’s fifth-grade student-teacher ratio will likely be around 29 students per teacher, assuming that most of this year’s fourth-grade students are promoted and stay at the growing 1,013-student school.

“We’re still overcrowded,” said Principal Ruth Standford. “This will help, but we could still use an additional teacher.”

The board also voted to create an assistant principal position at Shannon Elementary. Every elementary school in the district, with the exception of Plantersville School, has an assistant principal. Superintendent Lynn Lindsey said Plantersville doesn’t have an assistant principal because of its enrollment of just 386 students.

Board President Ronnie Robison said the new position is needed at Shannon to help oversee the 731-student school.

“The need is there,” he said. “Managing that many students is a big responsibility. We thought an assistant principal could help meet that need.”

The board also voted to fund $600 annual supplements for assistant softball coaches at the district’s three high schools. The county’s high school baseball coaches already have assistants.

Board members said the second coach was needed to serve as third-base coach. Head softball coaches now pull double-duty or bring in a volunteer to coach third base.

The board also:

– Voted to create a countywide maintenance position. The position will be part-time during the school year and full-time during the summer. Joe Kellum, who was appointed to the post, will continue to drive a school bus part-time. The new position will cost the district an estimated $17,000 this year.

-Approved a bid of $5,225 for safety mats, to be placed in work areas at cafeterias. The mats are recommended to prevent workers from slipping on tile floors.

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