By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – The president of the Tupelo School Board announced on Tuesday that she was stepping down from the board to spend more time with her family.
Beth Stone, 47, has served on the board for three years and has been president since March. Her term was scheduled to end in March 2015.
But the mother of three high school children said the job had become too consuming for her, and she felt her family wasn’t getting the attention it needed.
She had been discussing it with her husband, Jim, since the summer, she said.
“It has been a wonderful experience and very rewarding, but it has been my top priority for the last three years, and I want to make my family my top priority,” she said.
She said she was afraid she would look back and regret not being more present to her family.
Stone’s resignation went into effect after Tuesday night’s meeting. Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton must appoint her replacement, who must then be approved by the City Council.
Shelton said on Tuesday, he hopes to have a nominee ready for the Nov. 5 council meeting so that person can be in place by the school board’s next meeting, Nov. 19.
“There is no set criteria I’ll be looking for other than someone who is passionate about Tupelo and about the Tupelo Public School District and has a background in education,” Shelton said.
Stone is the board’s lone female and is a former teacher. Shelton said that he believes diversity on a board is important but that he won’t use the appointment “only to have someone with XYZ qualities on the school board.”
Stone was emotional in announcing her resignation during Tuesday’s board meeting. She thanked several people and said she was proud to see the district on a solid foundation.
Though she had been considering her resignation, Stone said she wanted to remain on the board until the district’s latest rankings were released. It was a “B” district with two “A” schools.
“She has a great skill set being a former teacher, and as we transition to Common Core and a different accountability model, she has been a great sounding board,” said Superintendent Gearl Loden. “She will be missed.”
The school board also must elect a new president to replace Stone.
“I enjoyed working with her,” said board member Eddie Prather. “She had a sincere desire to work for all children and work for the Tupelo Public School District.”
Former Tupelo Mayor Jack Reed Jr., who appointed Stone to the board, said on Tuesday that Tupelo was “very, very fortunate” for Stone’s service.
“She certainly has been part of turning our ship around, and she is certainly leaving our school system in much better shape than when she arrived, and we are all indebted to her service,” Reed said.
Stone said she would consider returning to teaching one day but that she has no immediate plans to do so.
She also said she believes she can serve public education away from her position as a board member.