Obviously, there will be new leadership in the school system. That's a given with the pending departure of Randy Shaver.
Whoever the new person is will have a lot of questions - surely even more than he or she would normally have - about what Tupelo will be like for the next superintendent of schools. You can bet candidates will be up to speed on what happened the last couple of weeks, and they'll want reassurances.
The City Council injected itself directly into the school furor when it drafted a resolution calling for the resignation of Shaver and Assistant Superintendent Fred Hill. This was a highly unusual if not unprecedented action, which council members have said was dictated by the circumstances and not an attempt to take over management of the schools.
It's not difficult to see how the council got to that point, with public pressure coming down hard on them, but it's also a worrisome precedent. It will be necessary for the council to clearly communicate that it does not intend to be looking over the shoulder of the next superintendent on every move, personnel or otherwise.
A superintendent is responsible for the management of the school system and is accountable to the school board, which provides direction and oversight. No future Tupelo school leader will want to worry about having to satisfy two masters, especially when one - the council - has no authority under the law to be directly involved in school matters except in approving school board members.
Of course the school board must provide a strong link with the community to stave off undue interference. For a while, at least, we will no doubt see greater scrutiny of school board nominees - one is due from the mayor shortly - and perhaps even greater interest in serving on the board.
We should also see a school board more proactive about hearing from the public and more flexible in how that happens.
At the same time, citizens must understand that some decisions won't be universally popular, and that ultimately the board must exercise its best judgment in making the tough calls when it believes it must.
A great deal that is positive can be gleaned from recent events, not the least of which is the clear evidence that Tupelo citizens still care deeply about their schools. But at the same time Tupelo must not gain the reputation as a place that will run people out on a rail.
Legitimate concerns about the schools and the superintendent's leadership style have been evident for some time now. Something about the way his departure unfolded, though, gives reason for pause, taking place as it did in such an emotionally charged environment.
Citizen engagement with and in the schools is a good thing, and Tupelo has always had it. But we have to be careful going forward that the negative energy of recent days and months gets channeled in a more positive direction.
Tupelo's schools have to change. That's a given.
Another given is that human beings don't like change, and that there will always be institutional forces that rebel against it.
But some people are better at communicating and managing change than others. Some can build the trust needed to make change possible and effective; others have a harder time at it. Knowing what needs to be done is only the first step in getting it done.
Tupelo's next superintendent must be skilled at both managing change and building relationships. That's not easy to find in a single package. If found, that person must be convinced that the environment is ripe for change.
That will be Tupelo's challenge. Some prospects for superintendent will see the events of the last few weeks, while ostensibly a cry for change, as actually resistance to it. Whether it's accurate or not, Tupelo will have to work to overcome that perception.
It's certainly doable. Tupelo, after all, has a history of educational innovation, openness to new ideas and a welcoming attitude toward outsiders, both as a school system and a community. We'll just need to reassure people that's still who we are.
Lloyd Gray is executive editor of the Daily Journal. Contact him at (662) 678-1579 or email@example.com.