TPSD board seat to open

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Amid the Tupelo Public School District controversy comes the city’s upcoming appointment of a new school board member.
Longtime TPSD Board of Trustees member John Nail’s term expired March 4, and Mayor Jack Reed Jr. must appoint his replacement by June 2. Nail is serving in an interim capacity until a successor is found.
Although no names yet have been mentioned, city officials said anyone tapped for the role will receive extra scrutiny after a raucous week leading to TPSD Superintendent Randy Shaver’s resignation.
“All the appointments are important,” said Ward 5 Councilman Jonny Davis, “but this one will be watched more closely by the public.”
All five members of the TPSD board are appointed by the mayor and approved by the council. The council can vote Reed’s appointments up or down but cannot pick them themselves.
This time, though, council members want more input on the decision before it reaches their table. Ward 3 Councilman Jim Newell said he wants to sit down individually with whomever Reed picks. And he hopes that person will have a background in education.
Reed said he’s seeking someone passionate about the TPSD who also has the community’s best interests at heart. And he hopes to find someone with a background in budgets or finance to replace Nail, who is an accountant.
“I think we need diversity on the board,” Reed said. “We don’t need to have five people with all the same skill sets.”
Reed said the recent controversy, which included the reassignment of Tupelo High School Principal Lee Stratton and complaints of an unresponsive board, won’t influence his decision.
Not so for Ward 4 Councilwoman Nettie Davis. She said whomever the council approves must show a willingness to listen to the people and communicate openly with them.
“We need common-sense people,” Davis said, “people who can relate to the citizens and the parents to serve on that board.”

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@journalinc.com.