School board member asks to serve second term

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Poplarville Board of Aldermen is still undecided whether to reappoint Poplarville School Board member Jason Baker.

Baker is currently serving on the school board after being appointed to complete Tommy Strahan’s five-year term, which will end Dec. 31.

The matter was under consideration because Baker moved outside of the city limits, and in previous years the two city appointed school board members have been Poplarville residents. The remaining school board members are appointed by the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors.

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Mayor Rossie Creel and Alderman Russell Miller recused themselves from the discussion. Creel works for the school district and Miller is married to the superintendent.

The Board got a legal opinion from City Attorney Manya Bryan that it would be legal to appoint someone who lived outside of the city limits, as long as they lived within the school district.

Baker came before the Board to ask for his reappointment. He said that he had a strong desire to continue serving and pointed out that he is the youngest school board member and the only one with kids in the Poplarville school system.

Board member Anne Smith said that while she appreciated Baker’s enthusiasm to serve, the Aldermen want to continue considering the issue because their decision will set a precedent. Smith said she is researching how school board members are appointed in other districts.

“What we do now sets precedent. I don’t want to make rash decisions,” she said.

Baker seemed frustrated and left the meeting.

The Board passed a motion to take the matter under consideration. Board member Daniel Brown voted against the motion.

Brown and Alderman Kevin Tillman both questioned why the Board was not informed sooner that the issue needed to be considered, when the Mayor and superintendent had been informed in July.