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UPDATE: Natchez Adams County School Board
from Staff Reports - NEWS
August 8, 2017 - ListenUpYall.com

By John Mott Coffey
 
NATCHEZ, Miss. – The push to transform the Natchez-Adams school board into an elected body continues to accelerate as public protests swell against the appointed board’s plans to borrow $9 million for school-building improvements.
 
The Mississippi Legislature next year is expected to act on a bill to let Natchez-Adams County voters pick the five school board members, who are currently appointed by city aldermen and county supervisors (three by the city and two by the county).
However, county supervisors’ attorney Scott Slover said current law already allows the Natchez-Adams School District board to be elected if its members choose to make this change.
 
The law he cited (Section 37-7-103) clearly empowers school boards to “abolish” or “reorganize, change or alter the boundaries” of school districts, but Slover said state attorney general opinions have interpreted that to also mean appointed school boards can change themselves into elected posts.
 
“We had no idea the school board could make itself elected,” county Board of Supervisors President Mike Lazarus said Monday.
 
He wants the NASD Board of Trustees to promptly use this law to convert itself into an elected board in time for voters in November to select members from ballots that could be included in the county’s already scheduled November election. This would be an option to waiting for the state Legislature in 2018 to mandate an elected board.
 
However, the five-member school board is not expected to do this. “We can’t order them to do anything,” Slover said.
   
Kevin Wilson circulated an unsuccessful petition last month to require the school board to let Natchez-Adams County voters decide whether the school district can borrow the $9 million for school construction. He told the Board of Supervisors on Monday that he filed an official objection as he tries to block the school board from borrowing the money.
 
This comes after Wilson appeared last month before the NASD school board at a meeting inflamed by fiery exchanges between school board member Phillip West and Wilson, his wife and son. The Wilsons took offense at West’s allegations that whites opposed more funds for Natchez-Adams County’s public schools because they’re mostly black. 

The school board is seeking to borrow the $9 million for school construction after Natchez-Adams County voters in May voted down a proposal to fund a $45 million building program with the help of a property tax increase.
 
County Supervisor Ricky Gray on Monday challenged complaints about borrowing more money for what most people agree are outdated, deteriorated school buildings.  He noted the county Board of Supervisors in 2013 borrowed $9 million to buy the old International Paper mill property for possible industrial development, but “no one raised any hell about that.”



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