Published 7:37 am Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The March school board meeting for the Jefferson Davis County School District was held Monday at the Academic Success Building in Carson.

Four school board members were present, Von Norwood, Bobby Wilson, John Bass and Beulah Walker. Terri Stamps was via conference call, as was Superintendent Will Russell.

A problem arose as the board began to discuss item number 12 on the agenda.

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Item number 12 stated: Approval of contract for real estate for new high school location.

School Board President Von Norwood asked for clarity about this item.

Superintendent Russell informed Norwood that this was the land discussed at the school board work session that was to be purchased for the high school.

“It was my understanding we were purchasing this land for an investment,” said Norwood.

“We never said this was going to be the location for the high school.”

“I don’t appreciate this. It is something that we need to table and talk about, and do it in a manner that we all agree on. To my knowledge this was a 16th section investment.”

“I don’t appreciate things being put on this agenda that we have not agreed on. Not one time have we ever discussed real estate being purchased to build a school.”

District 2 board member Bobby Wilson made a motion that the board accept item number 12.

District 1 board member Terri Stamps expressed concern and also asked that the issue be tabled.

“This should not have been put on the agenda and worded in this fashion,” said Norwood.

“The one thing we have always said is that we would have transparency. We have promised the public transparency.”

“Not only do I think this is not right, I think it is something that we need to take to the community first. It is not just something we can decide to do. Lets move move, move, move and push, push, push and go, go, go. No! We don’t even have money to build a school. So why would we vote on a location?”

“There is no reason why we should hastily and haphazardly vote on a location for this school right now, today.”

“This is not a surprise,” said Wilson. “It is not something that was added to the agenda last minute.”

“This is exactly what was discussed at the last board meeting.”

According to Norwood and Stamps, the only thing discussed at the previous board meeting was purchasing land as an investment.

A vote was taken, Walker, Bass and Wilson voted in favor of purchasing the land. Norwood and Stamps objected.

The land is located at 222 S. J. Garner Road. The board voted to purchase 33.5 acres from Johnny Kerley for $73,700.

The property is four and a half miles east of Prentiss, and six miles west of Bassfield.

“During the last work session, I told the board that we needed to win over the public. We need to figure out how much money we are saving from the consolidation we have already done. We are leasing JEJ for $36,000 and we need to hold what we have for two or three years and come up with the best place to put this building and the best way to do it.” Not one time at that work session did we say that there would be a school on that land,” said Stamps.

Jason McLeod and Superintendent Russell offered no comment when asked by the Headlight for their explanation.

“It was decided at the last board meeting we would proceed and give Mr. Russell permission to negotiate the price,” said Wilson.

“We are buying property. End of story. Nothing is written in stone. If we can build a school, it will most probably go there, it makes sense.”