Law leaves vacancy in Picayune’s School Board

Published 7:00 am Saturday, July 2, 2016

A recent change by the Mississippi Legislature to election laws pertaining to school board members has left a vacancy in the Picayune Separate Municipal School Districts Board of Trustees.
Jimmy Hancock’s term ended in February, but he said the change enacted during the last Legislative session mandated that all school board elections will now take place with the general election in November, leaving a vacancy until that election is held.
Assistant Superintendent Brent Harrell said the change will affect Board member Frank Feeley’s position when his term ends, leaving another vacancy.
Feeley’s term ends early next year.
“My term will end in February and it will sit vacant until November,” Feeley said.
Feeley said there are negative and positive aspects to the change. The negative aspect is that, for now, a seat will sit vacant again for 8 months, leaving the board with four members again next year.
But the positive aspect is that moving it to the general election may get more folks involved in the voting process.
Historically, school board elections were run by the district and had low turnout due to being held on a Saturday, Feeley said.
Those elections were typically held in early March.
Only two positions on the Picayune School Board are elected, the other three positions are appointed by members of the city council.
Hancock said he was not asked to stay on the board until the election by members of the Council. But, even if he had been, he isn’t sure if he would have stayed on until November.
Picayune Mayor Ed Pinero Jr. said the City Council could have appointed Hancock, or someone else, to fill the position in the interim, but they decided since there was still a quorum to conduct business they chose not to get involved.
Hancock said he felt as though he got some things accomplished during his time on the Board, although not as much as he would have liked.
He came from a long history of working in school districts, most of which in Picayune. He said for more than 35 years he held a number of education related positions in Picayune, from being a teacher and coach before moving up to principal of Picayune Memorial High School. He also had roles with District Support Services, the Alternative School and was over fixed assets for the Picayune and Pearl River Central School districts on separate occasions.
His advice for the person who wins in November’s election is to hold people accountable, be honest with what they do and keep the welfare of the entire district in mind.
“That’s what I tried to do. Some people liked it, some people didn’t. But I did the best I could,” Hancock said.

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