OKTIBBEHA COUNTY – Four county residents are vying for an elected place on the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Board of Directors in November.

The incumbent, a member of the East Oktibbeha County School Education Association, a former executive chairman of the parent-teacher organization and a Reverend have all qualified for the Nov. 2 election which will occupy one of the two county seats on the board of directors.

When the Starkville and Oktibbeha County school districts amalgamated in 2015, legislation defined the disposition of the school board – three city representatives appointed by the Starkville Aldermen’s Council and two elected by the citizens of County D ‘Oktibbeha who live outside the city limits.

John Brown currently holds the election position, while Jamilla Taylor holds the other county position. Thethe election for Taylor’s seat will take place in two years.

In order to qualify for the nomination, candidates had to submit a petition of at least 50 registered voters supporting them to the Oktibbeha County Circuit Clerk’s office, circuit clerk Tony Rook said.

Incumbent Brown, who has served on the board since 2016, is running for re-election. He said that through his position he made an effort to ensure that students are put first, followed by teachers and then administrators. With a background in law enforcement and emergency services, Brown said he brings a safety and preparedness perspective to the board.

“I’m running for re-election because I want to continue to see students come first,” Brown said. “… I think I bring safety concerns to the board – safety concerns for our students, staff and administration, as well as contingency plans for preparedness.” ”

When Brown served as chairman of the board during the 2019-2020 school year, he set up a committee that assessed current and new policies in the district. While he is proud of the work he did during his last term on the board, he said that if re-elected two things he would like to see implemented are for the five board positions to be elected, instead of three appointed, and restore religion in schools.

“The one thing I haven’t done that I haven’t addressed that I would really love to see is try to bring prayer back into the school system,” Brown said. “I at least want to have it in our meetings.”

Longtime Oktibbeha County resident Willette DuVall said she is standing as a spokesperson for the rural community. Although she is part of the East Oktibbeha County Schools Education Association, a non-profit education group, she said she is running as an individual instead of representing her organization. .

Along with education training, some policies she said she would like to see implemented include creating better communication between parents and administration, providing greater COVID-19 support for the district, the creation of incentive programs for teachers and mainly the establishment of greater diversity among schools.

“We need to understand people better,” said DuVall. “Don’t just assume that we all come from the same place and that we all have the same understanding and the same knowledge and skills to do it all. When you come from different cultures, you have a different understanding. You have different ways of doing things.

Certified Professional Advisor Cassandra Palmer served as Executive Chairman of PTO for three years, her final year being when COVID-19 hit in 2020. She said she had immense experience with the school district by being involved in strategic planning with Superintendent Eddie Peasant, assistant training in parental involvement and role of community actor when hiring Farmer.

Palmer also worked in the Starkville and Oktibbeha County school districts before consolidation through counseling services and currently has four children attending SOCSD schools, allowing him to see what the district looked like before and after. consolidation, she said. If elected, she said she would like to encourage two-way communication with all parents, urge the board to be more accessible to staff members and find ways to retain teachers.

“I think I have the unique perspective of having worked both inside and outside of schools as a school employee and as a person working with the students of the school. from an outside perspective as well, ”said Palmer. “… I think it’s important that we represent everyone, but I think it’s also important that we have county representatives who maybe understand some of the decisions, impacts and challenges that people face. parents and students are faced here. ”

Reverend Ronnie Tucker is the pastor of Mt. Peiler Baptist Missionary Church in Starkville. He said he has a good working relationship with the whole population, which will make him a great candidate for the school board as he will stand up for all members of the community.

Tucker said if elected he would like to create fairness within the district and provide transparency to all parents, students and teachers. A retired Mississippi State University professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, where he taught public policy and administration, Tucker said his background in politics would be beneficial for taking decision if he was chosen to sit on the board of directors.

“I think my experience is going to be vital for this role as it taught me how to look at the implementation of policies, the evaluation of policies, making sure that the policy is guaranteed for people,” Tucker said. . “I want to make sure that we are implementing policies that reflect the needs of students and that students are prepared for college or the job market.”


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