School Board Elections

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 17, 2008

Some voters will decide school board races on Election Day

By Billy Davis and Jason Mattox

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

When residents in north Panola County vote on Election Day, they’ll find a pair of competitive school board races buried somewhere on the ballot.

In one race, six-month incumbent Lydia Smith, a retired North Panola teacher, is seeking re-election and faces challengers John Clark Hudson and Patsy L. Jackson.

Smith was appointed in March following the resignation in February of North Panola trustee Billy Russell, who quit when the district was moving toward conservatorship.

In the second school board post, incumbent Pearl McGlothian, a past president of the board, faces challenger Heather Barlow.

The five-man school board has been operating with four members since Russell and trustee Cecil Dowden resigned. Dowden’s seat remains open, and conservator Dr. Bob Strebeck has said there are no immediate plans to fill the position.

Strebeck had the authority to disband the school board but has allowed it to remain intact.

School board trustee Rosa Wilson is currently serving as president of the school board. McGlothian is serving as vice president.

Under the current conservatorship, Smith, 55, described school board meetings as “professional and orderly.”

“Dr. Strebeck has done a wonderful job, and we’re headed in the right direction,” she said.

Smith’s challengers include Hudson, 73, a mechanical and electrical engineer, and Jackson, 57, who works for a non-profit organization.

Hudson, an Ole Miss graduate, said he’s running because “I see a great need in the North Panola schools.”

“I’m running because Sardis is not thriving, and academic progress will help it thrive again,” said Jackson, who has worked as a substitute teacher in the schools.

Jackson said she has four children who have graduated in the school district. She is a graduate of North Panola Vocational High School.

Smith said she retired from North Panola after accumulating 30 years in elementary classrooms. Smith said she graduated from North Panola High in 1970 and earned her undergraduate degree from Ole Miss.

In the second school board race, Crenshaw resident Heather Barlow is making her first run for public office against McGlothian, a longtime incumbent.

McGlothian has served on the school board since 1996, when North Panola was put under a state conservatorship for financial problems. During the state takeover, McGlothian was appointed to fill a seat on the school board.

Barlow, 32, is employed at Hollywood Casino in Tunica where she oversees personnel matters as risk management coordinator. She holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, both in business administration.

“There’s a tremendous need for some help,” she said. “There needs to be some accountability for our children.”

McGlothian could not be reached for comment about the school board race.