Board veteran retires

Published 12:04 am Saturday, September 24, 2011

NATCHEZ — After two terms and 10 years of service on the Natchez-Adams School Board, Dale Steckler has hung up her school board hat in exchange for grandmother headwear and hopes her vacancy will allow for a fresh perspective to take her spot.

“Basically my reason for not serving any longer is because I want to have a little bit more freedom, I’ve (been) doing more grandchildren watching,” Steckler said.

Steckler’s term expired in March. She said she declined to be reappointed when an Adams County Board of Supervisors asked her approximately a month ago to serve another term.

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Steckler said her hope for the school board as its members continue without her is that they try their best to engage community involvement with the public schools.

“I truly believe we need a full community commitment (to public education) even (from those whose) children aren’t in the public schools,” Steckler said.

“I know public education is important for more than one reason (other than) education of children — that’s the primary one — but for helping the community to become a whole educated community.”

The school board veteran said she believes a younger candidate might be able to bring fresh ideas to the boardroom table.

“Young people have much better ideas than us older folks,” she said.

The NASD school board is composed of three city appointees and two county appointees. The county supervisors appointed Steckler.

Her spot has remained unfilled since her term expired.

Darryl Grennell, president of the board of supervisors, said Friday he would open nominations for school board appointments at the board’s Oct. 3 meeting.

Grennell said he was unaware Steckler’s term expired until approximately a month ago, when District 1 Supervisor Mike Lazarus told him Steckler did not want to serve another term.

He said department heads, such as the NASD superintendent, usually let the board know when a board members’ term expires.

The message was likely not communicated to the supervisors, however, because of transitions in the superintendent position between former superintendent Anthony Morris and interim superintendent Joyce Johnson.

“(The message) was lost in the transition,” Grennell said.

The process of nominating board members and selection of a board member will likely take three weeks to a month, Grennell said.

While a supervisor can take suggestions from the public, only supervisors can nominate candidates for school board appointees, Grennell said.

He said if supervisors are not ready to close nominations Oct. 3, nominations can remain open.

Grennell said he is looking for a candidate who has the students’ interest at heart and is concerned about the public school system.

“(The board is seeking) a person who is willing to have a vision in terms of making improvements in the school system and (is) supportive of getting test scores where they need to be,” Grennell said.

Board members expressed a unanimous opinion at a July 18 meeting that school board members should be elected because of their authority to levy taxes.

The board discussed the issue at the meeting with Sen. Bob Dearing, who they invited to discuss changing legislation for NASD to elect, rather than appoint, school board members.

Dearing said at the meeting more than half of the state’s municipalities appoint their school boards.

Dearing told the board he would pre-file legislation in the senate concerning elected school boards following the general election.