Though Craig Chapman was promoted in June to assistant superintendent in the Columbus Municipal School District, he’s spending almost as much time at Columbus High School now as he was when he was principal there.
Chapman’s promotion was effective July 1, but he also has resumed many of his old duties at CHS while the district looks for a new principal.
Students began classes Friday with only the four assistant principals in charge of each grade and Chapman splitting duties. As one of the two assistant superintendents, Chapman’s role is focusing on district operations such as the maintenance department, custodial services and transportation.
“It hasn’t been that different getting back into the routine of a principal,” Chapman told The Dispatch. “… Getting back into the routine of what to do and making the adjustments for the school has not been that big of a transition. Learning the ropes of being the assistant superintendent has been new because it takes on a different level of understanding of what it takes to support schools and the district.”
CMSD has been advertising for a high school principal since June, according to school officials. It’s one of 30 jobs openings the district is advertising as available, according to an advertisement published Wednesday in The Dispatch.
Complicating matters is CMSD’s latest job opening created Tuesday when Superintendent Cherie Labat abruptly resigned. The board is seeking an interim superintendent and is expected to consider in a special-call meeting tonight giving Assistant Superintendent Shernice Wilson the authority to recommend personnel moves and discipline to the board in the meantime. The meeting is set for 6 at Brandon Central Services.
Since June 14, there have been 12 CHS principal applicants, and the board has only seen one, district public information officer Mary Pollitz said.
Patrick Henderson’s name was presented to the board during its review meeting Aug. 3. Chapman confirmed Henderson worked in the Hattiesburg Public School System but could not confirm his role there other than Henderson is a director of an alternate-type of school setting.
A committee consisting of Labat, various administrators and both assistant superintendents put their stamp of approval on Henderson.
However, board president Yvonne Cox said when Monday’s regular meeting came around, when she thought the board would approve Henderson’s hire, he was no longer on the agenda, and she does not know why.
“It was tabled (at the review meeting) to be added to Monday’s agenda, so Monday he was not on the agenda,” Cox told The Dispatch. “The recommendation was not added to the agenda. I don’t know who removed it, but it was not added to Monday night’s agenda.”
While the board is concerned with the 30 openings the district has, it is not an uncommon amount of jobs to be open compared to other districts in the Golden Triangle. Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District’s website lists 39 vacancies, and 10 can be found on the Lowndes County School District website.
The issue that sets CMSD apart from other districts is the fact there is no one to make recommendations to the board, so the board’s top priorities are to get an interim superintendent and a high school principal.
“I am confident that a principal will be at the high school who is one that knows the students,” Cox said. “They will be able to connect with the community, and Columbus High School will thrive. I feel confident that we will have that person lined up as soon as we get the interim superintendent in line, so our district can move forward.”
At the special-call meeting tonight, the board is set to discuss an interim superintendent during executive session.
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