Clarksdale Municipal School District board members are looking to give all prospective candidates for the superintendent position an opportunity to learn about all of its schools.
Having a diverse range of pictures for the brochure announcing the search for a new superintendent highlighted discussion during a special called meeting Wednesday afternoon. Dennis Dupree is retiring as superintendent at the end of the fiscal year June 30.
Board vice president Delores S. Harris is the board’s designated leader for the superintendent search. Rough drafts of the brochures were presented during the meeting.
“My concern was the photographs that were on our brochure and I wanted us to go over our criteria to make sure that we were all on one accord with that – in agreement with that,” Harris said.
Board member Sherley Fields said most of the photographs on the rough draft represent the elementary schools instead of the entire district.
Board member Joan Morris agreed.
“This is all pretty much elementary,” she said.
Board president H. Clay Stillions said some of the district’s gyms should be in the brochures.
“I’ll tell you, we have a few gyms to show off,” he said. “One is all the work that’s been done in the last seven years at Higgins.”
Stillions said W.A. Higgins Middle School also has a music academy.
“We also have a great physical plant at our high school here,” he said. “That is a very nice place, a very good situation. We need to show that.”
Fields said there should be pictures of other organizations such as the bands.
“I think more of the arts would be good,” she said.
“Most schools have band, arts, drama, even shop,” Stillions said in agreement.
Fields mentioned the possibility of using photos already on the school’s website.
Morris said there should be a picture of Clarksdale High School with kids in front of it.
“We were trying to get the different age groups and the different activity,” she said.
Having a photo STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) lab at J.W. Stampley Ninth-Grade Academy was also discussed, along with highlighting themes for the elementary schools.
Other issues, including providing the students' positive affirmation and non-traditional classes, were also discussed.
“Shop you can do woodwork,” Fields said. “That’s a skill you can use to make money.”
“I was approached by somebody,” she said. “They were telling me that there were so many businesses in this town that needed welders and Clarksdale High was not taking advantage of what the community college offered.”
Morris said Coahoma Community College offered the CMSD the opportunity to use its facility for welding classes.
“I think that’s a tremendous mistake on our part,” Morris said.
Stillions said 40 percent of the students are not going to college, but he has friends who went to trade school and make close to $100,000.
“We’ve got to think about traditional education because we’ve got to improve our position as far as test scores and everything else, but we’ve also got to be thinking about those high school kids and they get to the ninth grade and they know they’re not going to college,” he said. “They’re not interested in college, but they’re interested in learning something.”
Toward the end of the discussion, Stillions had positive things to say about the way the CMSD board handles things.
“I am honored to serve with you all on this board,” he said. “I am serious. We have five people around this table that love these kids and care about them – their education. We are so blessed to be part of a board where we all have the same goals and that can communicate and share ideas and not get our feelings hurt if our idea isn’t the one chosen. That’s so important. I respect you all and I love you.”
The brochure lists the schools in the district, that the district has more than 500 employees, an exemplary Army ROTC program and $20 million in external funding to enhance programs and services.
It also discusses the applicant criteria, including that candidates must have a Mississippi administrator license or the eligibility to hold one. It talks about the community itself as the “Birthplace of the Blues.”
The deadline for submitting applications is 5 p.m. May 6 and applications should sent to MSBA Superintendent Search, Clarksdale Municipal Superintendent Search, PO Box 178, Clinton, MS 39060.
Once the Mississippi School Board Association screens applications and sends them to the school board, community meetings will be held.
“Then we will communicate with the community – our stakeholders – maybe when it gets to the interview process,” Harris said. “After MSBA sends the list to us, they may have questions they want to ask, so we’ll compile those, so we’ll do our interview on our end.”