The Carroll County School Board has decided to move forward with a superintendent search, and they have chosen to use the Mississippi School Board Association as the agency that will help guide the board with their decision.
In an earlier meeting, board member Donnie Wiltshire told the board that using the MSBA to help with the search could cost between $3,000 and $5,000, which was cheaper than what the Mississippi Education Search Consortium quoted.
The vote was a 3-2 split with board president Kenneth DeLoach, Wiltshire and William Downs voting for the search and Stella Washington Bell and John Phillips voting against it. Once the measure was voted on, the room filled with parents and students who were all lively as students from Marshall Elementary presented why they were the “Greatest school in the world” went somber.
The room stayed quiet throughout the entire meeting.
Before the vote, concerned citizens Carolyn Summerville and George Johnson spoke to the board questioning why they were opening the search, when the district already had a superintendent. There were many in the audience who agreed with Summerville and Johnson.
There was also a 3-2 vote on holding a meeting to decide what they wanted to look for in a superintendent with DeLoach, Wiltshire and Downs voting for the meeting and Washington-Bell and Philips voting against it.
Summerville has grandchildren who live with her and who attend school in the district, and Johnson is a former teacher.
“I am in total disbelief of what’s going on with this board,” she said.
Summerville said that DeLoach and Wiltshire have a personal vendetta against current Superintendent Billy Joe Ferguson and want him gone.
“You’re not going to find anyone that will take the salary that he has,” Summerville said.
She asked the board how they planned to pay for the new superintendent with the financial restraints the board is facing.
“Our representative Tobey Barker told y’all that you would have to raise the millage or you would be in trouble, but you did not do it,” Summerville said. She said that the board wouldn’t find anyone who would be willing to come to Carroll County or anyone who would have the same compassion as Ferguson.
“I want to know what the problem is,” Johnson said. “I do, and I want you to answer me. I want to know why you are doing this.”
Johnson said when he worked in the county, he and Ferguson didn’t always see eye to eye, but they work together and respected the other person’s viewpoint.
“Y’all need to get it together and work this thing out. We have a good school here, we do. Now, some of the kids may not want to do their work, but that’s more on the parents. That’s the parent’s fault. But, when I worked here? We disciplined,” he said, with many “mm-hmm’s” echoed behind him.
Johnson said there’s already a problem keeping good teachers and administrators in the district. “You need to look within your district and get them to stay here,” he said.
“Do you not believe in the Lord?” he asked. He added that people live in two universes: common sense, referred to as the natural and revelation, referred to as the spiritual.
“You live through revelation through your faith,” he said.
Johnson said everyone’s thinking had to transform but most importantly it was the job of the board to help transform the thinking of the students in the Carroll County School District.
During his superintendent’s report, Ferguson thanked the parents and students for attending the meeting and showing the board what’s happening in the district. He said he’s enjoyed working in the district and wants to do more.
“This is my life, I was born here, I was raised here, my family is buried here, and when I die, I’m going to be buried here too,” he said.
Ferguson said he was going to be okay with whatever decision the board made. “Whatever happens, happens, it’s the Lord’s will, I’ll accept it.”