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Assistant Superintendent resigns

NATCHEZ — On top of the swapping of furniture, grade levels and a superintendent, another big shake up is coming to the Natchez-Adams School District.

NASD Assistant Superintendent Morris Stanton submitted his resignation to the school board for the district’s No. 2 spot at a specially called meeting Wednesday.

Stanton was not present at the meeting, nor was Interim Superintendent Joyce Johnson, who submitted her notice of retirement Wednesday.

Johnson’s contract ends Saturday.

Incoming Superintendent Frederick Hill attended the meeting virtually, through an iPad and mobile speakerphone. But no current top administrators were present at the meeting.

Hill, whose first regular day of work is July 2, previously served in a position similar to Stanton’s — as one of two assistant superintendents with the Tupelo Public School District.

Hill’s previous job included oversight of sixth through 12th grades.

As the only assistant superintendent at NASD, Stanton had oversight — just beneath the superintendent — of all schools. And since the board decided in 2012, not to hire a replacement for Human Resources Director John Sullivan, Stanton had taken on many of those duties.

During the 2011-2012 school year, Stanton’s salary was increased from $107,360 to $112,360. Johnson said at a meeting the increase was recommended because of Stanton’s extra duties related to human resources, which included recruiting, among other duties.

Stanton’s resignation letter and evaluation was absent from the board’s packet.

School Board President Wayne Barnett said after the meeting he didn’t know why Stanton resigned, other than to say Stanton had personal issues this year involving the death of his son and had been commuting a lot.

Stanton, who is originally from Natchez, was hired as assistant superintendent in 2008 under former Superintendent Anthony Morris’ administration.

Before joining the NASD, Stanton served as assistant superintendent of human resources at Canton Public School District.

The assistant superintendent position was not included in the district’s vacancy list Wednesday, nor had a replacement been recommended. Barnett said the vacancy would likely be dealt with at the next regular board meeting July 12.

The board also unanimously voted against temporarily hiring Stanton as a consultant to help Hill with the transition to the superintendent job.

Board member Dr. Benny Wright said the consulting rate would cost the district twice Stanton’s normal daily rate. He asked Hill if he could make the transition by speaking directly to department heads and principals instead of hiring Stanton as a consultant. Over the speakerphone, Hill said that he could.

In other news from Wednesday’s meeting:

• The board invited the public to attend a public hearing July 5 to discuss the district’s budget.

The proposed budget for the new fiscal year includes an increase in local taxes of $565,083. However, the proposed overall budget, which includes federal and state tax dollars, reflects a $2 million decrease.

The district’s current budget is $41,885,872. The proposed budget for the new fiscal year is $39,882,109.

In the current overall budget, 26.55 percent, or $11,121,570, is paid for with local ad valorem taxes.

For the next fiscal year, the district proposes that 29.3 percent, or $11,686,653, would be paid for with local taxes.

Business Manager Margaret Parson said the proposed budget includes no money for renovations because the district didn’t have money for them.

The district administrators have noted plans, which were approved by the school board in May, to renovate the now closed Robert Lewis Middle School for the purpose of creating a magnet school.

Barnett said the board would be doing more listening than talking at the public hearing.

“(I) encourage people to come to the hearing,” Barnett said. “This is an opportunity for the public (to speak).”

• The board voted unanimously to table an agenda item calling for approval of the proposed administrative salary schedule.

Parson said some changes to the schedule reflect changes to the district’s reorganization.

Like last year’s schedule, most administrative salaries are calculated based on a schedule for the teachers in the school where the administrators work. Money for the additional number of paid days is added to the teacher schedule, plus an increase of eight to 16 percent, depending on the administrator’s level of responsibility.

Board members agreed they didn’t know enough about the changes to vote.

“This is why I’m constantly saying board members need to be part of the discussion (on the budget), because right now I’m just about as lost as I can be,” Newsome said.

Board member Tim Blalock said he thought Hill should have a look at the salary schedule before the board votes to adopt it.

“We’re rolling from one administration to the other, and tools of administrative management involve salaries,” Blalock said.

Newsome said some of the salaries included increases, which she didn’t have an explanation for and wanted.

“When you go to the taxpayer and ask for an increase, if you put it all out there in salary raises, what does that (look like)?” Newsome said.

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