Search for Shannon Middle principal begins

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Lee County School District began accepting applications Thursday for the top administrator at Shannon Middle School.
The district will refer to that position as “transformational leader” rather than as “principal.”
The transformational leader at Shannon Middle School will have more autonomy and a higher salary than other principals in the district in order to attract high-caliber candidates to the low-performing school.
Superintendent Mike Scott said the exact amount of that salary is negotiable.
The district will accept applications until 3 p.m. on April 23 and hopes to fill the position by early May. Interviews will be conducted April 27-28 by a team of school staff and community leaders.
The school district was required to replace the principal at Shannon Middle School as part of its application for a federal School Improvement Grant.
The school is eligible for the grant because its scores were in the bottom 5 percent of the state on the Mississippi Curriculum Test, Second Edition.
Shannon Middle School has about 200 students in seventh and eighth grades. The district plans to add a sixth-grade class at the school next year. The current principal, Ralph Green, will become principal at the district’s Belden Center next year.
The grant would bring the school $1 million to $1.25 million per year for the next three years. The school would have to show improvement each year in order to renew the grant, which is a new initiative by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan designed to improve low-performing schools.
To that end, schools applying for the grant must give special autonomy to their principals. Lee County Middle School Curriculum Coordinator Kathy Mask said that the new leader at Shannon Middle School could have extra authority to hire staff, organize the school’s schedule, set up its calendar and manage the school’s budget.
The exact scope of authority is still being developed.
Mask said candidates must have experience turning around low-performing schools.
The search will focus on Mississippi, but applicants from other states will also be considered. Scott said principals at other Lee County Schools have been encouraged to apply.

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.