March 9, 2018 10:26:48 AM
The Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated board voted Thursday to extend superintendent Eddie Peasant's contract by one year.
The vote came 3-0, with Board Vice president John Brown, Secretary Debra Prince and Assistant Secretary Keith Coble voting in favor of the decision. Board President Lee Brand had to leave shortly after the beginning of Thursday's meeting.
Thursday's vote comes almost exactly one year after trustees voted to select Peasant as the district's superintendent. Board members offered him a four-year contract on March 1, 2017. He began working in July, after former Superintendent Lewis Holloway retired.
The board's vote leaves Peasant's annual salary at $180,000 but pushes his contract back out to the four-year maximum allowed under state law. The contract will now expire in 2022.
Brown, speaking to The Dispatch after Thursday's meeting, said he fully supported the board's decision.
"We're very fortunate to have Dr. Peasant as our leader," Brown said. "We felt that as a board, we should extend that contract and show that support."
Coble said he felt there are good things happening in the district, with new initiatives such as a pre-kindergarten program.
"We did his evaluation at the previous meeting and failed to take the vote," Coble said. "This was a formality, but we had discussed it earlier."
Peasant told The Dispatch he's grateful for the extension, which he said he views as a measure of faith in what his administration is doing.
"I think it's a show of faith and trust in me and what we're doing right now in this first year," Peasant said. "It's important that I have their support and trust moving forward. I'm excited about that."
During Thursday's meeting, Peasant updated the board on pre-kindergarten registration, which opened on Monday and will continue through April 6.
Peasant said 83 students have been registered for pre-kindergarten class at Sudduth Elementary, though the classroom only has space for 40 students.
"We wish we could have at least one more classroom, but we just don't have the funds for it right now," Peasant said.
According to the district website, SOCSD will first place students in pre-kindergarten based on need, determined in part by academic screening, and fill remaining slots, if any, on a first-come, first-served basis.
Assistant Superintendent for Federal Programs, Special Education and Preschool Anna Guntharp said she's talking with Emerson Family School Director Joan Butler about potentially expanding the pre-kindergarten program and offering scholarships.
SOCSD will begin offering pre-kindergarten classes at Sudduth and West elementary schools for the 2018-19 school year. Peasant said the district expects to have about 20 students registered for pre-kindergarten at West, which is the school's capacity.
Peasant added that he was happy to see the strong response from the community in registering students for pre-kindergarten. He said he thinks it will help address a need for getting more students prepared for kindergarten.
"This excitement in our community just tells me that this is a need for us and for our children," he said. "Many kids have the opportunity to go to daycare and some other preschools, but some don't have that opportunity. This will address that need, and our goal is to have more of our students prepared for kindergarten."
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