School board vice president questions hiring practices

By By Georgia E. Frye / staff writer
June 22, 2004
Ed Lynch, vice president of the Meridian School Board, asked school administrators Monday to explain the district's policy on hiring new employees.
Lynch's remarks came during a regular meeting of the school board.
He did not say why he was questioning the school district's hiring policy. But Geral Loden, director of human resources, said he would research the answer.
Superintendent Sylvia Autry said the district's current policy authorizes the superintendent to advertise positions or fill them from within.
Lynch also asked school officials about mandatory drug testing for all district employees. He wants to know how much it would cost to test employees at the point they are hired, and then randomly each month.
Currently, the school district tests only bus drivers for drugs, but Lynch said anyone who interacts with students should be drug-free.
Loden said he would look into the costs and the legality of drug testing and report his findings to the board.
In other business, Autry announced that Oakland Heights Principal Kim Benton recently received the National Distinguished Principal's Award. The award from U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige is given to only one principal in each state.
The school board also took the following actions:
Lowered Meridian High School's graduation fee from $50 to $45;
Renewed an EduSoft Software agreement that provides practice tests for the Mississippi Curriculum Test to exclude prekindergarten and kindergarten, which will save the district more than $20,000 next year;
Accepted a $400,000 elementary school counseling grant from the Mississippi Department of Education; and
Approved an $18,000-a-year agreement with Weems Community Mental Health Center to provide mental health care services to about 1,000 employees and their families.

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