Article Comment 

Starkville school board candidate ruled ineligible


Tim Pratt



One of the candidates vying for a seat on the Starkville School District Board of Trustees has been declared ineligible by the Mississippi Attorney General''s Office.  


Ann Carr lives outside Starkville corporate limits, but in a portion of Oktibbeha County served by the Starkville School District. Eighteen percent of Starkville School District students and two school board members -- Keith Coble and Bill Weeks -- also live outside Starkville''s corporate limits, but within the school district''s boundaries.  


According to state statute, if at least 15 percent of students live outside corporate limits, but within a school district''s boundaries, at least one person living in that area must serve on the Board of Trustees. State statute also says if more than 30 percent of students live in the added area, no more than two members of the Board of Trustees can live there.  


The Starkville Board of Aldermen, which is responsible for appointing the person to fill the vacant seat, was unclear whether or not Carr would be eligible to serve since she would be the third Board of Trustees member who lives outside the city''s corporate limits. Their confusion was based on conflicting Attorney General''s opinions dating back to 1981, and because the Starkville School District''s student population living in Oktibbeha County is greater than 15 percent, but less than 30 percent.  


Attorney General''s opinions from 1991 and 2004 say anyone can serve on the school board as long as he or she lives within the school district. An Attorney General opinion from 1981, however, states that only two school board members can live in an area added on to the original school district, like the portion of Oktibbeha County added to the Starkville School District, regardless of the percentage of the student population living there. 


In a letter to city officials dated March 5, Attorney General Jim Hood supported the 1981 opinion, which would limit the SSD to two Board of Trustees members who live in the county, and modified the opinions from 1991 and 2004.  


"To say that the limit of two trustees from the added territory is not applicable to a municipal school district in which the added territory furnishes 15 percent but less than 30 percent of the pupils enrolled in the schools of the district would result in the untenable proposition that a municipal school district with fewer students from added territory could have more trustees representing the added territory than a municipal school district having more students from added territory," the opinion reads.  


However, Carr still might have a chance to serve on the Board of Trustees.  


Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said the Board of Aldermen will consider the Attorney General''s opinion, but the decision ultimately is up to them. 


"Although it''s pretty clear what the opinion says, the Board (of Aldermen) is the one that will ultimately make a determination of what that means," Wiseman said. "It''s advisory. It''s a strong advisement, but it''s advisory." 


The other three candidates still vying for the school board position --Walter Conley, Eric Heisel and Susan Tomlinson - live within corporate limits.  


During the first round of interviews in February, candidate James "Cubby" Harris interviewed with the Board of Aldermen for the school board position and was invited back for the second round of interviews, but has since informed city officials he is no longer interested in the job.  


The next round of interviews are scheduled for the Board of Aldermen meeting on March 16 at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment we balls commented at 3/11/2010 1:50:00 PM:

Thats the problem everything falls in the wrong hands and No Carr doesn't need the seat she's not a native of Starkville at all James Harris need to get the seat. It's A Great Day to be a Jacket!


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