August 27, 2013 9:40:28 AM
JACKSON -- Former Clinton Mayor Rosemary Aultman will be taking a seat on the state Board of Education, at least for a few months.
House Speaker Philip Gunn named Aultman, who served as mayor of Gunn's hometown for 20 years, to the board Monday.
Gunn, though, said Aultman will serve as a recess appointment through Dec. 31 while the Legislature is out.
Aultman, 66, said she and Gunn would then decide whether she wanted to serve the whole nine-year term.
"At the end of the year, we'll evaluate and make a decision about whether we go into a long-term commitment or not," Aultman said.
The former mayor said she worked for 13 years as a classroom teacher in Hattiesburg and Clinton, then served on the Clinton school board before being elected mayor. Gunn served on the Clinton school board later before being elected to the Legislature as a Republican.
Aultman replaces Martha "Jackie" Murphy, of Rienzi, whose term expired June 30. Murphy was appointed by former House Speaker Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi.
On the final day of the 2013 session, the Senate Education Committee rejected Gunn's nomination of charter schools advocate Joel Bomgar to the Board of Education to replace Murphy. Some senators questioned Bomgar's commitment to public schools.
Even in a short stint, Aultman would have an influence in the future of the state's public school system. The Board of Education is currently looking for a new state superintendent and is scheduled to make a selection by October.
"Certainly we're at a critical juncture and the person who would come in would need to be highly innovative and have a strong background in program development," Aultman said.
She said she hopes a new superintendent can focus on improving reading instruction and high school graduation rates.
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