North Panola Conservator

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 8, 2011

New state conservator on job at North Panola

By Billy Davis

Robert King, former assistant superintendent for Oxford School District, has been named interim conservator at North Panola.

King, 61, began his new role Monday, succeeding the 11-month tenure of Dr. Oscar Love.

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King made his appointment public Wednesday, when he visited The Panolian with North Panola spokesman Mack Dandridge.

“My role, right now, is to finish out the school year,” King said, citing instructions from Dr. Tom Burnam, Mississippi’s superintendent of education.

The conservator’s contract runs through June 30, King told Sardis newspaper The Southern Reporter this week.

A spokesman for the Miss. Department of Education said the State Board of Education, when it meets April 15, will decide whether to name King as interim conservator.

The spokesman would not say King’s hiring would be a formality, though a Department of Education Web site already lists him as head of North Panola School District.

King said Wednesday he is eyeing a $500,000 reduction in state funding, due to expected budget cuts, and he is already studying the district budget with school district staff.

Mississippi public school districts are required to maintain cash reserves, which North Panola has done, according to King.

“But at the same time the district has used (the reserves) to balance the budget for the last three years,” King reported.

King retired in 2006 as Oxford’s assistant superintendent. He then came out of retirement in 2008 to serve as interim superintendent for Oxford, when the district was searching for a full-time hire.  

“Some people are called to the ministry,” King said. “I feel like my calling is to work with young people.”

King’s appointment as North Panola conservator marks the fourth state-appointed leader since the Department of Education took over the school district in 2008.

Poor academic achievement at two North Panola schools triggered the state takeover, when the schools failed to show improvement among their students.