The Columbus Municipal School District has three new principals in place.
The CMSD board of trustees voted Monday to approve new principals at Columbus High School, Columbus Middle School, and Franklin Academy Medical Sciences and Wellness Magnet Elementary School.
Undray Scott, currently assistant principal at Brandon High School in Rankin County, has been named CHS principal. Kurus Jamison, currently principal of the Millcreek School in Starkville, has been named CMS principal. Tawan Williams, who has served as interim principal at Franklin since February, has been officially confirmed in her role.
Scott will replace Jill Savely as CHS principal. Savely left CMSD in January to become principal at Golden Triangle Early College High School, which opens in the fall.
“We are looking forward to the challenge of coming in and getting the ball rolling,” Scott said.
He has served as an assistant principal in the Rankin County School District for a decade. A Mississippi State University graduate, he began his career as a science teacher and football coach at Tuscaloosa County Schools. Currently, he is a doctorate of education candidate at the University of Southern Mississippi for December 2015.
He will earn $95,000 per year.
Columbus Middle School
Jamison will replace Freda Dismukes as CMS principal. Dismukes is staying within CMSD, becoming ninth grade principal at the new Freshman Academy.
Jamison has been the principal of Millcreek School in Starkville since 2013. Millcreek Schools serve students who benefit from further behavior development in addition to standard learning. Jamison, a MSU grad, served as a principal in the West Point School District from 2007 to 2011. He began his career as a school counselor in Fulton County.
Jamison told The Dispatch his background with counseling and Millcreek Schools gives him a well-rounded approach to addressing the whole child. A West Point native, he said he is excited to have a good opportunity in the Golden Triangle.
This will be his second time working for CMSD — he was an assistant principal in 2006 before leaving for a principal job in West Point.
He will earn $81,100 per year.
Williams, a University of Mississippi grad, has spent her entire career with CMSD.
She will be taking the role she has filled on an interim basis since February at Franklin, after then-principal Patricia Overstreet resigned.
Williams started her career as a teacher at Hughes Elementary in 1995. She was named CMSD Teacher of the Year in 2004 for her work at Stokes-Beard Elementary. Williams transitioned to administrative roles within CMSD in 2006, when she took over as Stokes-Beard’s curriculum coordinator. She spent two years as assistant principal at Cook Elementary.
Williams told The Dispatch she feels “a bit relieved” to finally be made a permanent principal. She feels her 20 years of experience at all levels of CMSD make her well equipped for the job.
“My love for children and doing what’s in the best interest of those children is what excites me the most about the position,” she added.
She will earn $71,200 per year.
Band director hired
A new CHS band director was also approved by the board Monday.
Eric James, a New Orleans native and professional trombone player, has been hired as music teacher and band director. He said he wants to turn the band into a source of community pride.
“We want to have the band program live up the district model of developing champions,” James said.
Salary, staff debates continue
For a second consecutive meeting, the board spent more than an hour debating the office of personnel.
Board member Jason Spears made a motion to not approve the requested position of director of academic support services. He was seconded by Glenn Lautzenhiser. That motion failed 2-3 — Board president Angela Verdell, and board members Currie Fisher and Stephen Jones voted against it.
Verdell made a motion to approve the position, but it died without a second.
The position would serve as coordinator of the special education program, after school programs and the district’s counseling. The position would pay $65,000 per year.
“There hasn’t been any substance put forth that this will add substance in the district,” Spears said.
Superintendent Dr. Philip Hickman said the position adds value by enhancing special education, counseling and after school programs. In open forum Monday, a woman with a special needs child addressed the board about improving special education.
Spears pointed out that the district formerly had four assistant superintendents and now only has one deputy and one assistant superintendent. Hickman said to pay for this position, the district would be not filling two other posts.
“This is a needed position, like the young lady expressed earlier in open forum, we really need to pay attention to our special population,” Hickman said. “We cannot ignore any of our population of students. You’re charged as a board member to educate every single child that comes into our district … that’s why I’m asking for this position.”
Salary scales back and forth
When it came time to vote on salary scales, Spears — who last month determined the board should table the majority of the salary scales and pass only a select few — said he wanted to rescind raises he pushed for in April.
Spears claimed that while he voted for raises for personnel who had not received a raise, those workers had in fact received salary increases due to step increases, which Spears considers to be the same as a raise. He said he was misled by information saying these district employees had not received a raise.
“I make a motion we rescind all raises that were given last month, with the exception of scale 17, which is the teachers, which is legislatively mandated,” Spears said.
Board attorney David Dunn advised the board to not consider the motion because contracts with the already authorized salary increases had already been issued. Spears withdrew his motion, but his fight against any board spending continued.
The authorized raises will cost $78,923, according to district business manager Tammie McGarr. She told the board she does not see passing these raises as a risk to the district’s financial health.
Spears also lobbied against the approval of supplements of $500 each for 45 after school clubs, totaling $22,500. He argued that coaching supplements were too large and that because the after school clubs do not exist yet, there is no way to gauge if there was a need.
Hickman defended the additional club supplements, arguing that the district has virtually no non-athletic based clubs and that it is a disservice to the students.
“As a parent, I would be very upset that as a board, you are trying to eliminate stipends for after school programs,” Hickman said. “Right now at our high school, we don’t have strong clubs. At our middle school, we have no after school clubs, programs or tutoring. And at our elementary schools we have no after school clubs, programs, tutoring or extra curricular activities … so as a board, you are rejecting the notion that our kids deserve what other kids should have.”
CMSD serves approximately 4,500 students.
Jones motioned that the board approve only salary scale 36, which is the supplement scale for clubs and athletics. His motion passed unanimously.
Fisher made a motion to pass the remaining 19 salary scales that remained tabled. Her motion failed 2-3 with Lautzenhiser, Jones and Spears opposed.
The district is scheduled to present its budget for 2015-2016 to the public in June. Should the new salary scales that remain tabled not be acted on, they will revert to this year’s scale.