Decision on new VWSD posts expected tonight

Published 11:43 am Thursday, July 19, 2012

Two longtime Vicksburg Warren School District employees picked for newly created administrative posts will find out tonight if they officially have the jobs.

Lum Wright Jr. and Dr. Michael Winters, poised to become administrative assistants to Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Swinford, must have appointments ratified by trustees of the Vicksburg Warren School District, who will meet at 5:30 p.m. in the district office board room.

Swinford said Wednesday she expects discussion on the appointments and trustees could still back out of the deal.

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Polled July 5, board members approved the appointments 3-1. Voting in favor were District 1 Trustee and board President Bryan Pratt, District 2 Trustee Zelmarine Murphy and District 4 Trustee Joe Loviza. Voting no was District 3 Trustee Jim Stirgus Jr. A simple majority only is required of the five-member board, and District 5 Trustee Sally Bullard, who reportedly has been ill, was not polled.

Bullard, whom Swinford said is not expected to attend tonight’s meeting, could under state law be telephoned for a vote tonight if her ballot should become necessary.

Winters and Wright had been nominated separately to replace Debra Hullum, the former assistant superintendent who retired June 30. Trustees denied Winters’ appointment in May and Wright’s in June.

Following the June meeting, Swinford said she would bring no other candidates for that position to the board. It was in the weeks after that she created the new positions and asked board members to vote by phone on the appointments.

“These two gentlemen are the ones I felt could help move and continue moving the Vicksburg Warren School District forward and fulfill the mission and vision of our board,” Swinford said last week.

Wright, with 23 years experience with the VWSD, nearly 20 of it as athletic director, will see an increase of about $6,500, up to $98,450 to oversee athletics, transportation, facilities and security, she said. He would have received $111,694 as assistant superintendent.

If his promotion is approved, the position of athletic director will be eliminated. If not, Wright will remain in the position.

Winters has 14 years with the district and will be paid $89,450 to oversee child nutrition, career and technical education, human resources and finance departments, said the superintendent. He would have received $102,694 as assistant superintendent.

If promoted, his position at VJHS, which pays him about $83,000, will be filled by an interim principal.

Hullum, with more than 25 years with the district, would have been paid about $114,000. In all cases, benefits run about 40 percent of salaries, Swinford has said.

With less than three weeks until the opening of school Aug. 6, Swinford said maintenance crews have been busy getting classrooms, cafeterias and common areas ready for the students.

In addition, the superintendent has eliminated her private conference room and turned it into her office.

“We think it is useless space,” Swinford said. “We have a board room and a meeting room and do not need it.” The renovations have included removing wood paneling in the former conference room, installing drywall and painting, she said.

Her administrative secretary will move into Swinford’s former office space. Use of that office is still undecided, she said.

About 8,900 students attended in the 2011-12 school year, which the superintendent expects to hold steady.