By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – The Tupelo School Board is once again at full capacity after the City Council confirmed Sherry Davis on Tuesday night.
Davis replaces Beth Stone, who resigned in October to spend more time with her family. The Itawamba Community College instructor joins Rob Hudson, Kenneth Wheeler, Joe Babb and Eddie Prather on the five-member board.
The board’s primary task is to set policy that governs the school district’s operations. It also hires and evaluates the superintendent, who oversees day-to-day operations. Staffed with community members, it serves as a liaison between the community and school district.
Tupelo’s school board members serve five-year terms. They are appointed by the mayor and approved by the City Council. Terms are staggered so that one Board member’s term expires each March.
The current board carries the imprint of former Mayor Jack Reed Jr., who appointed three of its members: Hudson, Wheeler and Babb. Reed’s predecessor, Ed Neelly, appointed Prather, and current Mayor Jason Shelton chose Davis.
Shelton’s next chance to appoint a board member will be this March, when Prather’s term expires. He also can choose to re-appoint Prather.
Other board members’ terms will expire in March in the following order: Davis (2015), Hudson (2016), Wheeler (2017) and Babb (2018).
Davis’ appointment also gives the board a female member. She likely will be sworn in during the Board’s next meeting on Tuesday at noon at the Hancock Leadership Center.
During the Board’s last meeting, it elected Hudson as president, filling a role previously held by Stone. Wheeler was elected vice president and Babb secretary. The board will re-elect its officers in March as it
does at that time each year.
Here is a brief biography of the five board members:
• Hudson is president of Hudson Management Corp., which owns and operates McDonald’s restaurants in Tupelo, Saltillo, New Albany and Pontotoc. He and wife Tracy have four children. Hannah is a junior at Ole Miss, Larkin is a senior at Tupelo High School, Mary Grace is a sophomore at THS and Caroline is in sixth grade.
• Wheeler is director of security services at North Mississippi Medical Center. He and wife Cheryl have two children, Tiffany and Brandon.
• Babb is a CPA and practices public accounting at Eaton, Babb & Smith. He and wife Lauren have three children. Cate and Ava both attend Joyner Elementary School, where they are in second grade and kindergarten, respectively. Jack is 7 months old.
• Prather works as an educational consultant with the Excellence Group. He has worked as principal at Pearl High School and as superintendent of Okolona Schools. He and wife Priscilla have two children, Latalia and Eddie Jr.
• Davis is a biology instructor at Itawamba Community College who spent 17 years teaching science in the Tupelo Public School District. She and husband Jonny have two sons. Jonathan is a student at Ole Miss-Tupelo and Benjamin is a senior at THS.
“I think our board is a well-rounded board,” said Superintendent Gearl Loden. “They are great to work with and very supportive of our leadership team. They will ask questions and they want to know and be informed. I respect their thoroughness, and it is nice to be held accountable.”