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West Point principal tapped to lead district

 

Jason Browne

 

WEST POINT -- Burnell McDonald is next in line to run the West Point School District. 

 

The West Point School Board chose McDonald Thursday by unanimous vote. The South Side Elementary principal was one of seven candidates interviewed for the position. Seventeen people applied. 

 

School board President Gene Brown said the board chose McDonald based on his work at South Side, his personality and his love of children. 

 

"It looks like he''s going to be the man for the job," said Brown. "We went through careful deliberation and discussion and came out all agreeing he would be the best hire." 

 

Brown said McDonald''s race -- he''s black -- played no part in the board''s decision despite rumors black district parents would boycott the school district if a black superintendent was not selected. The majority of parents present at an April school board meeting said those rumors were unfounded and that they merely wanted to be included throughout the hiring process. 

 

However, parents at one point also requested a superintendent with a doctorate, and McDonald holds a master''s degree with an administrative certification. 

 

Current Superintendent Steve Montgomery, who will retire at the end of the school year, said McDonald''s lack of a doctorate won''t hinder his ability to run the district. 

 

"It''s good if you have that type of degree, but when it comes down to it, being superintendent is about daily decisions, managing and hiring the right personnel," he said. "Mr. McDonald is a proven leader. I think he''s going to do a good job." 

 

Montgomery said the adjustment from supervising 50 people in one building to more than 500 district employees would take anyone at least a year. But due to McDonald''s popularity among the community, he feels parents will allow McDonald time to adjust to his new responsibility. 

 

Brown credited McDonald with turning South Side around in the last six years, raising the school to a Level 4 under the state''s old accountability model. The school was on pace to earn a Level 5 when the Mississippi Department of Education changed the model. South Side''s rating of Successful under the current model was the highest rating in the district for the 2009-2010 school year. 

 

McDonald will take over for Montgomery July 1. 

 

When asked whether any further staff changes could be expected at the WPSD central office, Brown replied, "not at this time."

 

 

 

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Reader Comments

Article Comment vmoseleyb commented at 5/6/2011 9:14:00 AM:

The West Point School Board made a GREAT decision. Congratulations Mr. McDonald

 

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