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Final 3 field crowd’s questions

[5/17/03]It was standing room only in the Vicksburg Warren School District’s new board room, where more than 100 turned out Friday night to ask questions and meet candidates for the district’s superintendent.

Student discipline, faculty morale and even mold were among topics broached by community members who piled into the board room.

A decision can be expected to be announced by the middle of the week, board president Kay Aasand said.

“We feel the pressure and we want to make the right decision,” she said.

Candidates are Agnes Lyles, current assistant superintendent, James Price, administrative assistant to the superintendent, and Kim Stasny, superintendent of the Bay St. Louis-Waveland School District.

“I think any one of the three can carry our district forward,” said Charlie Tolliver, principal at Vicksburg High School, after hearing the final candidates field questions from the community.

“I believe I can work with any of the three.”

Discipline was a subject broached by Fred Guynn and other members of the audience.

Guynn addressed the lack of consistent discipline at some schools.

Lyles and Price agreed that a safe and orderly environment is a top priority.

Stasny added that punishment must be fair and consistent and administrators should be proactive.

Susan Athow, a foods and nutrition and child development teacher at Warren Central High School, asked the candidates how they would raise and maintain faculty morale and meet faculty’s needs as society’s blame and responsibility escalates.

“I wanted to raise their sensitivities and let them know that we feel overwhelmed at times,” Athow said. She said pressures from the district and the new accountability system have added to the stress.

“I think each of the three candidates would approach the position in different ways but all would have workable ways and each would strive to do his best,” she said.

Another teacher expects more involvement from the next superintendent.

“I want the new superintendent to be more prevalent in our schools,” said Tiffany Flanders, a second-grade teacher at Warrenton Elementary School.

“I want to see a superintendent listening to our concerns, and I want to see him at our PTO meetings. Those are the kinds of things I want to see.”

Flanders was the first to present the candidates with a question. She asked how, if selected, a candidate would change the perception of one school being better in the district.

Also discussed at the meeting was mold because a mold problem at Dana Road Elementary shut down the library for six weeks.

Zelmarine Murphy, District 2 trustee and board vice president said she thinks each candidate seemed to be extremely knowledgeable in education pursuits in Mississippi.

“Hearing the responses tonight gives me a better vision as to what we will see in day-to-day operations and long-range plans,” Murphy said.

The search for a new leader of the 9,200-student school district began in late January with current superintendent Donald Oakes’ announcement to retire effective June 30.