The Columbus City Council on Tuesday can fill a soon-to-be-open seat on the Columbus Municipal School District board.
Glenn Lautzenhiser’s current five-year term on the city school board expires next Monday. Lautzenhiser has held the position for 25 years. He has not applied for reappointment, according to city officials.
While city officials say applications for the CMSD board seat will be accepted until the time of the meeting Tuesday, two people have already applied: Willie Petty Sr. and Josie S. Shumake.
Petty, who has pastored Jerusalem Baptist Church in Columbus for 29 years, worked as a teacher in Missouri for eight years before moving to Columbus in 1987. He taught one semester in Columbus schools and has served as a substitute teacher since. His children graduated from Columbus High School, and Petty said he was a foster parent for several years. He said such relationships make him a good candidate.
“We need to know what the students need, we need to intermingle, we can’t stay in the office,” he said. “That’s one of the biggest things I think I can bring, from elementary to high school age, I’ve subbed them all. I’ve seen how they’re doing and what they need.”
Shumake is a Columbus native and graduate of the city school system. She holds a doctorate in English literature from the University of South Carolina and retired in 2009 as public affairs officer with the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Information Agency. She has volunteered with several local organizations. Shumake said much of her professional experience was spent “bringing different groups together to work through difficult issues and come up with practical solutions.”
“My first priority as a new board member would be to learn as much as possible about the inner workings of the school district, to fully understand my duties and responsibilities, and to carry those out in as forthright and thoughtful manner as possible,” she said. “Any plans I might have would be developed in consultation with the board and other stakeholders.”
CMSD serves approximately 4,500 students.
Its board consists of five people each appointed by the city council.
Lautzenhiser currently serves as the board secretary. The rest of the board is made up of president Angela Verdell, Jason Spears, Currie Fisher and Stephen Jones.
Jones will face Marthalie Porter in a runoff Tuesday to determine who represents Ward 5 on the Columbus City Council. He previously told The Dispatch he will likely step down from his CMSD post if he wins that election.
Sam Luvisi is news editor and covers education for The Dispatch.
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