Elected school board bill dies in committee

Published 1:01 am Thursday, March 1, 2018


NATCHEZ — A bill to make the Natchez-Adams School Board an elected office died in a house committee Tuesday.

Sen. Bob Dearing, D-Natchez, authored the bill, which easily passed the senate with a 46-6 vote in early February.

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The deadline for all bills to pass out of committee was Tuesday, Feb. 27.

Dearing said he was not sure why the bill never left the house committee.

“It was a non-partisan, non-controversial bill,” Dearing said. “The chairman just wouldn’t bring it up, and it died.”

The chairman of the house of representatives’ education committee, Rep. Richard Bennett, R-Long Beach, did not respond to emails and phone calls Wednesday.

“I just don’t understand why he wouldn’t bring it up,” Dearing said. “It’s a local legislation bill. There’s no reason to hold it back.”

Local leaders in Natchez — including Mayor Darryl Grennell and several members of the Board of Supervisors and Board of Aldermen — first proposed the idea of a bill to make the positions elected ahead of the 2017 legislative session.

Currently, the Natchez Board of Aldermen appoint three school board members and the Adams County Supervisors appoint two members.

The bill had much local support in the 2018 session as well; in January, Grennell said he has supported the change to an elected board for more than 20 years.

Board of Supervisors President Calvin Butler said in January that he wanted the positions to become elected in part because he wanted the school board members to be held accountable by voters.

The bill will remain dead until the next legislative session, when Dearing said he hopes to bring the subject up again.