Elected school board bill headed to House

Published 12:35 am Monday, February 12, 2018


NATCHEZ — A bill to make Natchez-Adams School Board members elected officials has passed the senate and is on its way to the House of Representatives.

Sen. Bob Dearing, D-Natchez, who authored the bill, was among the 46 senators who voted in favor of the legislation.

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Six senators voted against the bill, but Dearing said he believed the opposition was based on method of election, not the election itself.

“From the debate I heard, they didn’t like the fact that the board members would be an elected all at once instead of staggered,” Dearing said.

The bill has passed committee and the senate without withstanding any changes, Dearing said.

The legislation, Senate Bill No. 2003, would change the school board member position from an appointed position to an elected one.

School board members would be elected in the same fashion as members of the Adams County Board of Supervisors, with one board member per district in the county.

If enacted, the first election of the school board would be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, and all new board members would take office on Jan. 2, 2020.

An election would be held every four years thereafter.

All current school board members in office on July 1, 2018, would keep their position until Dec. 31, 2019.

Dearing said the bill should be assigned to the education committee in the coming week and, if passed, only must pass the House of Representatives without change before heading to the desk of the governor to be signed into law.

Dearing said he feels positive about the passage of the bill through the house.

“Rep. (Robert) Johnson has said he supports the bill,” Dearing said. “I am going to talk to him about stalking to the chair of the education committee once it’s assigned.”

Johnson is Natchez’s democrat representative.

Members of the Natchez Board of Aldermen and Adams County Board of Supervisors first asked Dearing to submit a proposal for an elected school board in 2016.

When the bill passed the senate committee in January, board of supervisors President Calvin Butler said the move would make school board members accountable to electors.

Though the legislation did not garner much support in the 2017 legislative session, the bill has faced little opposition this year, with a clear majority voting in favor of the proposal both in the senate and in its first committee.