By PAUL SIMS
Citing a lack of confidence in the Starkville School District board’s leadership, a Starkville aldermen called Tuesday for the board chair’s resignation, a request the panel’s chief dismissed.
School officials have been under fire recently for the way they handled first the administrative leave and later the resignation of Superintendent Judy Couey, giving limited explanation and holding several closed sessions.
During comments at Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting, Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins asked SSD Board President Pickett Wilson to step off the board and said he would not support her reappointment to school board – if she chose to pursue it – in 2012.
“The lack of confidence in the leadership of the school board continues to undermine the credibility of the school district and the community as a whole,” Perkins said. “I foster no personal animosity, malice or ill will towards the school board president, but believe that, under the present circumstances, she should resign from the school board.”
Perkins says he’s favorably inclined to support those who serve in positions of authority when they are up for reappointment, but “when the incumbent is the center of controversy and when such controversy is not in the best interest of the community, then I must withdraw my support for such a candidate.”
When contacted Tuesday night, Wilson said: “I have no intention of resigning from the school board.” In regard to seeking reappointment, she said: “It’s just too soon to tell.”
Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas also commented on the state of the school board.
“I never buy sausage that tastes bad, looks bad, smells or that I don’t just generally trust. I hate to use sausage as an analogy of board business, but it actually fits, and this sausage stinks, the package is bad and no one is buying it,” he said.
Dumas also addressed the hiring process for the next superintendent, saying the selection “has to be right, it has to be forward thinking and most importantly, it must, must result from a process that builds coalition and trust.”
In an unrelated matter, the Board of Aldermen heard a presentation from Howard Blackson and Nathan Norris of Placemakers LLC regarding their workshop toward developing a form-based code overlay for several major Starkville corridors.
Firm representatives have been in town for nearly the past week gathering information and making assessments toward creating a set of codes to guide future development along Highway 182, Main Street, Russell Street and Lampkin Street.
One major step they encouraged was the development of a tree-lined, multi-laned corridor of Highway 12, encouraging development of a greater connection between downtown Starkville and the Mississippi State University campus, bridging what’s been termed as “the great divide.”
Norris and Blackson’s recommendations focused on creating more walkable space and finding ways to create senses of enclosure, particularly in downtown Starkville with the use of civic space.
The team will post additional information at the website http://starkvillecorridors.com/ .
Norris said they are looking at putting in place a measure which would trigger the codes.
They intend to develop a draft ordinance in four weeks for their proposed codes which would guide development. City officials have said they expect the process will be complete by fall.
In other matters, the board:
u Heard a presentation on the Park Commission’s application for a Playful City USA grant forward fostering an atmosphere to encourage greater play activity in the community.
u Reappointed Wendell Gibson to the Park Commission, Ira Loveless and John Moore to the Planning and Zoning Commission, Marco Nicovich to the Board of Adjustments and Appeals and named Acting Starkville School Superintendent Beth Sewell to the Comprehensive Planning Committee.
u Granted an additional 25 days toward construction of an extension of Pat Station Road.