Timetable for state superintendent search not set

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – A timetable has not been established to replace Tom Burnham as state superintendent of education.
Burnham retired at the end of June, and Lynn House, deputy superintendent for instructional enhancement and internal operations, was named by the state Board of Education as the interim superintendent.
In June, board members said they wanted to wait until new members were in place on the state Board of Education before starting a search for a new superintendent. But Wayne Gann of Corinth, the new chairman of the state Board, said not only do the new members need to be in place, as they were for last week’s July meeting, but they also need to be acclimated to their new responsibilities.
Gann said he was “hesitant to say” how the nine-member board will conduct the search, when it will begin or when it will be completed.
“She and Dr. Burnham worked so closely together,” Gann said. “Dr. House has been so involved in everything the department has been doing … We are in a good position. We can take out time and find the very best person available for us.”
Gann said he could not say whether a new superintendent would be in place this year.
But he did express concern about the relatively short tenure of Mississippi’s chief education officials. He said the state has had some outstanding superintendents, who have developed laudable goals for public education, but have left before seeing them to fruition.
“The state board just needs to set our major goals. That does not mean the superintendent will not have input,” Gann said.
Burnham, who started his second stint as state superintendent in 2009, announced in May that he was stepping down. When he started his second tenure, Burnham admitted that he was burned out when he resigned the first time in 1997 after five years on the job.
Since the superintendent’s post became appointed in the mid-1980s, no one has served more than five years as the state’s top education leader.
bobby.harrison@journalinc.com