Panel of residents asks questions of superintendent hopefuls

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 26, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Two candidates for Natchez-Adams Schools superintendents sat down Wednesday for interviews with school board members &045; and for questions from a panel of community members.

First up was Dr. Jimmy Williams, who said getting public input and setting challenging yet reachable goals are two of the biggest keys to a school district’s success.

Williams, a Hope, Ark., native, was interviewed Wednesday afternoon by Natchez-Adams School Board members and then, for an hour, by a group of private citizens.

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Williams said his first priority as superintendent would be to ask school personnel and the community at large what they would like to see the district accomplish.

&uot;Until then, it would be presumptuous of me&uot; to formulate a plan of action, said Williams, who also vowed to have an open-door policy.

Although he does not believe in corporal punishment, Williams said he does believe in discipline. One key to controlling behavior problems is to fully communicate to the public what the district’s expectations of student behavior are, he said.

On Wednesday evening, community members had a chance to ask questions of Dr. John Gregory Ladner, currently superintendent in Lumberton. Ladner said he would be willing to spend his first year in the district wearing a button with the phrase &uot;It’s my fault&uot; &045; in response to the test scores in the district.

&uot;Someone said testing isn’t everything,&uot; he said. &uot;In Natchez, Mississippi, testing is everything. You had a school this past year that did not reach the mean in any area … that’s unacceptable. You do not have a child/student problem, you have an adult problem.&uot;

By his third year, though, Ladner said he wants everyone to be wearing a button that reads &uot;it’s my privilege.&uot;

Ladner also said he sees the impending closure of International Paper &045; and the loss of that tax revenue &045; as a challenge, not a problem. Ladner said he would work with the board and with Adams County supervisors to find ways to overcome the loss of revenue.