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City council to consider school board

By By Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
Nov. 12, 2001
The Meridian City Council will meet in special session Tuesday to consider the nomination of a new school board member.
Board member James Vance's term expired in March, and he has been serving on an interim basis ever since.
Mayor John Robert Smith said in a press conference last week that he had narrowed the field of possible candidates down to two people, and hoped to appoint a new school board member to replace Vance by the end of the month.
The mayor's nomination must be confirmed by the city council.
B.J. Barrett's term
Meanwhile, some confusion has arisen about when board member B.J. Barrett's term ends.
His appointment was confirmed in June to complete the unexpired term of Sam Neal; school district officials say his term ends in March 2002. According to Barrett and city officials, the term ends in March 2003.
The problem is that Mississippi state code calls for five-year school board appointments to be staggered so that only one member rotates off each year and Ann Stewart is scheduled to rotate off in 2003.
Stewart said the discrepancy has been pointed out to city officials and the Mississippi Department of Education.
Barrett said he is unaware of any question about his term, which is an unexpired term left vacant when former board member Sam Neal moved out of the district.
Origin of the mix-up
School district records show the confusion began in 1998, when Neal was appointed to a full five-year term to replace outgoing board member Ricardo Gillispie.
Gillispie's last term would have ended in 1997, but he served into 1998 as part of a superintendent search committee. School records show that Neal should have been appointed to the remainder of the term that would have begun in 1997 so that his term would end on schedule in March 2002.
Maureen Lofton, spokesperson for the city, said Neal was appointed to a five-year term in 1998 because Gillispie was not reappointed in 1997.
School board president Fred Wile said he doesn't see the discrepancy as a significant issue.
Steve Gillespie is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3233, or e-mail him at