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DeSoto County Schools Supt. Cory Uselton (left) congratulates new officers for the district Board of Education elected at the July 2 meeting. Board member Michelle Henley was named Board Secretary and Milton Nichols became the new Board President for the 2019-2020 school year.

The new school year officially began July 1, and at the first DeSoto County School District Board of Education meeting of the new year held Tuesday, a change in leadership occurred among the board members. 

Milton Nichols assumed the role of board chairperson, and Michelle Henley was named board secretary.

Nichols, representing District 1, pointed out that board members felt it was important to share roles in the leadership of the county school district governing body. Henley represents District 2.

Sarah Doss-Thomas, representing District 5, had served as board chairperson during the just-completed school year through June 30. Sheila Riley (District 4) and Ann Jolley (District 3) complete the makeup of the board, and both have also sat in the leadership chair to operate the business of DeSoto County Schools.

Following the election of officers, the school board went about an agenda that included a report on construction and maintenance projects the district is undertaking this summer.

Jerry White, Physical Plant Department Director, presented an update on projects that are being done during the summer vacation period.

The projects that are completed include library floor replacement at Hernando Middle School, floor replacement of the gymnasium lobby at Southaven High School and cafeteria floor replacement at Shadow Oaks Elementary School.

Two hallways and 19 classrooms are involved in a project to replace flooring at Hope Sullivan Elementary School. There is also floor replacement of several rooms at Southaven Middle School and window replacement at Olive Branch Intermediate School.

“This is quite a facelift for this school,” White said. “It’s going to look really good. The main thing about it is that it’s going to save us a ton of energy there. We’re really excited to get this done.”

Other projects White touched on were a lighting replacement program at Center Hill Elementary School worth about $145,000 and the second phase of HVAC retrofitting of Hernando High School.

There is also additional classrooms being built at Oak Grove Central Elementary School, Hernando Elementary, Lewisburg Primary and Elementary schools.

Hernando Alderman Andrew Miller also appeared before the board to express thanks for the district’s cooperation in the recent historical marker placement at Oak Grove Central Elementary.

The building was Hernando Central, the first African-American public high school in DeSoto County, which ran as such from 1958-1970 during what was called the Equalization Period of American education.

Miller, who attended Hernando Central, was a driving force in getting the Mississippi State Historical Marker placed in front of the school.

“We really want to thank you for all you’ve done and your support,” Miller said. “We also wanted to give a special thanks to principal Stacey Pirtle and her staff for everything they did in allowing former classmates and students to tour the building.”

Among new business items from the meeting, held Tuesday instead of Thursday, which would have been July 4, the district approved advertising of bids for phase two of a playground addition at Horn Lake Intermediate School and drainage improvements at Southaven Elementary School. Allen & Hoshall PLLC will provide the architectural services for both projects.

Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.

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