SP Trustee

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 24, 2010

Last-minute SP candidate makes it a race for trustee

By Billy Davis

A former South Panola School Board member, who served as interim in 2007, has qualified to seek his former seat.

Rusty Lamb, of Pope, is seeking the District 3 seat, currently held by trustee Sandra Darby of Batesville.  

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South Panola trustees rarely draw opponents for the important but little-noticed school board seats.

School board trustees in Mississippi have few but important duties. They appoint the district superintendent, set district-wide policies, approve hirings and firings, and approve an annual budget.

South Panola Superintendent Dr. Keith Shaffer oversees daily operation of the school district, which has 4,600 students. It is also the largest employer in the county, with approximately 600 employees on payroll.

Lamb turned in qualifying papers September 2, beating the deadline by a day. The coming General Election is November 2.

 “I’m running because I want to help the school district and help the people it serves,” Lamb, 35, said of his run for the public office.  

He and wife Gina have a daughter and son who attend the fifth grade at Pope School.

The South Panola School Board appointed Lamb in September 2007 after Dr. Carlock Broome had resigned during the summer.

South Panola trustees, when they appointed Lamb, had stated publicly they were seeking an interim candidate who did not wish to run.

The school board also sought an interim board member who showed concern for Pope School, the only school located in District 3.  

Lamb was serving as PTO president when he was appointed. He served a four-month term then stepped down after Darby won a special election.

Darbyis seeking her first full term after she led six candidates in the 2007 race.

She and husband Leslie have a son who is an eighth grader at Pope School. A daughter graduated from South Panola High in 2009.

Darby, 46, said she is proud that South Panola trustees implemented a new grading scale, among other accomplishments, during her term.

She also said the school board, working together, has passed a “tight” budget this year without making lay-offs in the school district.

The school district, instead, renegotiated some teachers’ contracts to cut salary costs.  

“I did nothing on my own,” she said. “I’m one member of a five-member board, and we work together and vote as a group.”

Darby also said she helped bring a high school mentoring program, which had been successful at other schools, to Pope School.

Lamb said he is impressed by the healthy foods initiative, begun at Pope School last year, and wants to see it implemented at other schools in the district.

He also wants the school district to study school uniforms and take a second look at the absence of lockers in the schools.

“I’m concerned that our children are weighted down with books in their backpacks because they don’t have lockers any more,” he said. “If there’s a weight limit, it’s being broken by those books.”

Lamb said he is no longer serving as a PTO officer but regularly attends school meetings.

The District 3 seat includes portions of Pope and Courtland, and areas of the Eureka and Tocowa communities. The district does not follow the same boundaries as the county supervisor’s seat.  

To find out if you reside in District 3, call the Panola County circuit clerk at 563-6210.