Columbus real estate agent Stephen Jones has submitted the first application to fill a vacant seat on the Columbus Municipal School District board.
Jones seeks to replace Greg Lewis, who resigned effective Dec. 31 after serving less than a year of his five-year appointment. Mayor Robert Smith said the council is expected to accept Lewis’ resignation during its regular meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall. From there, the city will advertise the vacancy and accept applications for 30 days after the initial advertisement. Smith said he expects the council will appoint Lewis’ replacement by the end of February.
The council appointed Lewis to the five-person CMSD board in February. He resigned that post in December after accepting the executive director’s position with the Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority. Lewis has worked for CLRA for more than 20 years, serving as program director before being promoted to executive director in October.
Since the school district holds several leases with CLRA, speculation arose whether Lewis’ hire as executive director would constitute a conflict of interest. Smith told The Dispatch last month that he didn’t see why there would be a conflict. Still, Lewis gave his letter of resignation to CMSD board president Angela Verdell on Dec. 17.
“I hate to see him step down,” Smith said of Lewis on Friday. “I think he did a great job for the time he served. He’s a very open-minded person who cares about the school and the community. He was a great asset on the board.”
Jones, an agent with RE/MAX in Columbus, sits on the local real estate board and is a member of the Mississippi Association of Realtors’ membership and technology committee. Before joining the real estate field six years ago, Jones said he worked 20 years for Video USA, including 10 years as district manager.
He said, if appointed, he hopes to work toward changing the image of the city’s public schools until it is more level with that of the Lowndes County School District. Exactly how he plans to attack that issue, he said, remains to be seen.
“I’m a product of the system, my kids went through the system and I’ll probably have grandchildren go through the system,” Jones said. “Anything I can do to help the kids in the Columbus city schools, I want to do it. … I’d have to get in there, learn the system and see what it’s about before I can comment on what (exactly) I can do.”
The other members of the CMSD board are Jason Spears, Glenn Lautzenhiser, Currie Fisher and board president Angela Verdell.
In other business Tuesday, the city council will consider tax exemption applications for renovated downtown properties and consider approving two police officer hires.
Zack Plair is the managing editor for The Dispatch.