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County, city, school leaders to meet Monday

NATCHEZ — The members of Adams County’s three tax-levying boards will meet Monday to discuss the public school system.

The Adams County Board of Supervisors and the Natchez Board of Aldermen will hold a joint work session in which the Natchez-Adams School District’s Board of Trustees will also be in attendance.

The session will be at 3 p.m. in the boardroom at the supervisors’ offices on State Street.

Supervisor’s Vice President Mike Lazarus said the board has had a number of residents approach them with questions, and since they appoint two members of the school board, they would like to meet with them. The public is welcome to attend, he said.

“I think the public has some questions they felt like the school board wasn’t answering,” he said. “I am hoping they will open up to the public and answer why they made some of their decisions. I want everybody to be respectful and ask questions respectfully, and hopefully we can get some answers.”

In recent months, groups of residents have led protests outside the school district’s administration building over changes in personnel in the district and school performance concerns, and have taken their concerns to the city and county boards. The aldermen and the supervisors both adopted resolutions asking the state legislature to consider making the school board an elected rather than appointed board.

Natchez Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis has likewise requested the boards arrange meetings with local business leaders to rally the entire community leadership, business and civic, behind the effort.

Arceneaux-Mathis said she plans to attend Monday’s meeting in a listening capacity.

“I am concerned with some of the situations some employees have found themselves in, but I am mainly concerned about student achievement and the ability of the district to move forward, to look at the budget and make sure the funds that are available are being used effectively,” she said.

“The community has brought these concerns to us as elected officials, but we can’t answer them. We don’t even know what has been going on.”

NASD Board of Trustees Vice President David Troutman said he has no idea what the other leaders will ask the school board members, saying they have not directed any specific concerns to the board other than questions about hiring and firing practices.

The school board has little input in hiring and firing, he said.

“It seems to me they are responding to some citizen input, and they need some answers to some questions, and a lot of that is going to be tied to what the law says the school board can do in some situations,” Troutman said. “The answer is a lot in some situations, only a little in others.

“But I will respond to them that in all situations the school board’s main task is to do what is in the best interest of the children of Natchez, and if we feel like what is presented to us is in the best interest of the children, we are required to do that by law.”