By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – Mayor Jason Shelton said he plans to nominate retired public school administrator Eddie Prather to a second five-year term on the Tupelo School Board, making him the only current member on the five-member board serving beyond a first term.
“My rationale was to keep some continuity on the board,” Shelton said.
Prather, 59, served for a decade as superintendent of the Okolona Public School District and previously as principal of Pearl High School. He has served as president and vice president of the Tupelo School Board.
Shelton asked the City Council on Monday to add Prather’s nomination to Tuesday night’s agenda but decided to wait until the Feb. 18 meeting at the request of Councilman Jim Newell, who preferred a little more time to consider the nomination.
“When we pull surprises out of the bag and put them on us, I don’t like that,” Newell said Monday.
Tupelo Public School District Superintendent Gearl Loden has asked council members to support Prather’s reappointment and believes his experience and background offer an important, unique perspective to the school board.
“You’re talking about a person who has been a teacher, a principal and a superintendent,” Loden said. “He understands a variety of educational settings that says a lot about being a well-rounded board member.”
Ward 1 Councilman Markel Whittington said he anticipates Prather’s reappointment sailing through the City Council without a hitch.
“He’s a good fit,” Whittington said Tuesday. “I think the school system is headed in the right direction.”
Prather said support from Shelton and the City Council to continue serving on the school board would be an honor. Prather said his life as an educator has shown the impact quality education can have on many levels.
“Pre-K through 12 has a tremendous role in educating children and preparing them for life and helping the entire community,” Prather said. “I know education can change people’s lives.”
It’s Shelton’s second school board appointment since he became mayor last July. He previously nominated and the council approved Sherry Davis to replace Beth Stone, who stepped down in mid-term.
School Board President Rob Hudson said Prather and all other current members bring unique strengths to the position, a diversity of backgrounds that has benefited the policy-making body’s decisions.
“He’s really done a great job contributing his talent and experience to the board,” Hudson said.