Tupelo board elects Prather as president

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TUPELO – New Tupelo school board President Eddie Prather said the group needs to help the district’s new superintendent pull everyone together.
Prather was elected as president by the board at Tuesday’s meeting. The board elects its officers for one-year terms at its first meeting in March. Amy Heyer had served as president for the past year.
The board tabbed Beth Stone as vice president and Rob Hudson as secretary. They followed the pattern of rotation, in which members go from secretary to vice president to president.
Prather was vice president last year, and Stone was secretary.
Prather said that the board needs to make sure that new Superintendent Gearl Loden comes in with a solid foundation.
“It is no secret we’ve had some distractions,” Prather said Tuesday. “(Interim Superintendent David) Mr. Meadows has helped us refocus on academics.
“As a board, we want to make sure Dr. Loden can come in and give leadership for the community as a whole that we can all pull together for the betterment of our children.”
Among those distractions was a change of superintendents, Prather said, adding that the district’s state ranking of Academic Watch has also caused concern. That is the fourth of seven tiers the Mississippi Department of Education uses to rank school districts based upon their state test scores.
Past Superintendent Randy Shaver’s tenure lasted less than two years, and Prather said he believes that Loden, who was hired last Tuesday, will bring stability. Prather was the board’s point person in its search for a new superintendent.
Prather is a former school administrator who served as superintendent of Okolona schools and as principal at Pearl High School. He currently works as an education consultant.
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com