The Starkville-Oktibbeha School District Board of Trustees unanimously promoted Vice President Keith Coble to its top leadership position Tuesday after former President Jenny Turner’s term expired.
Tuesday’s appointment marks the second time trustees have chosen Coble, who was first elected to the school board in 2008, to serve as school board president.
Trustees also unanimously set three other internal roles: Lee Brand will serve as vice president; John Brown as secretary and Melissa Luckett as assistant secretary.
The only trustee without a designated board position now is Anne Stricklin, who is expected to step down from her appointed seat at the conclusion of the academic year. Her husband, Scott, was named the University of Florida’s athletics director last year, and the family will complete its move from Starkville after the school year.
Coble thanked his fellow board members for their show of support and identified progressing through the construction and development of the SOCSD-Mississippi State University partnership school and transitioning leadership from Superintendent Lewis Holloway to incoming Superintendent Eddie Peasant as the board’s biggest upcoming tasks.
The partnership school, which will be built on MSU’s campus and educate all grades 6-7 students in Oktibbeha County, is expected to open in time for the 2018-19 academic year, and Peasant will assume his district leadership role July 1.
Coble said Peasant is expected to meet with the school board, administrators, faculty and staff in numerous sessions prior to his start date.
“The completion of the partnership school is a big deal, and that includes all of the agreements necessary to make it work. We really doing something unprecedented in the state,” Coble said. “We’re also working to make this transition (from Holloway to Peasant) as smooth as possible. No dates have been scheduled (for meetings with Peasant and SOCSD groups), but they should come after spring break.”
Luckett sworn in
Luckett, a project coordinator for Mississippi State University’s Research and Curriculum Unit, summed up her emotions from joining the school board with one word: gratitude.
Tuesday marked the start of her five-year term, and she took the oath of office with her family at her side.
“I was most grateful to have my husband, Paul, and two sons, Chris and Roman, standing with me,” she said. “I was reminded of the great service (Turner) gave our district. I think if I can do half as good of a job as she has done, I (will) count that as a win.”
Luckett’s appointment came last month after Mayor Parker Wiseman was forced to break two stalemate votes by aldermen. The board first deadlocked 3-3 on a motion to appoint Debra Prince, an associate professor in the MSU Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Foundations, and then again split on a motion naming Luckett to the board.
Wiseman supported Luckett’s nomination after citing her decade of volunteering with the district, involvement with consolidation and service as liaison between SOCSD and concerned parents of county students.
Before Tuesday’s meeting, Turner was honored for her five years of school board service.
Turner applauded her fellow board members’ efforts through her tenure and said is proud of how the district came together during consolidation. She also said Luckett “will do a wonderful job” representing SOCSD stakeholders.
“We’ve made a great deal of progress in a lot of areas, but consolidation and the partnership school (with Mississippi State University) are the standout issues. I’ll always remember that first day after consolidation, because getting to that point was a daunting task with all of the moving parts and logistics,” she said. “To have it run so smoothly and have the students do so well, that was the biggest success. The student buy-in was incredible, and the district has grown so much through that experience.”
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch