The DeSoto County School District (DCS) Board of Education has two seats up for election this November and Wednesday was the first day for candidates to file to be placed on the ballot.
The two people who now are holding those positions on the board returned papers Wednesday morning for re-election. Both are seeking another six-year term on the school board.
Ann Jolley, who has been on the board since 1989, and Sheila Riley, first elected in 2012, presented their paperwork with petitions containing at least 50 signatures of voters in their district to Circuit Clerk Dale Kelly Thompson’s office at the DeSoto County Courthouse in Hernando.
Jolley, who represents District 3, has been on the board under five superintendents, including current Supt. Cory Uselton.
In filing her papers, Jolley related how when she first ran she lost by 40 votes. Jolley ran again in the next election and defeated three other opponents to become a school board member and has represented her district ever since.
The booming growth and size of Mississippi’s largest school district and the building that has been done to meet that growth has been the biggest change Jolley said she has seen in the 30 years she has been on the board.
“Our biggest problem has also been finding and keeping teachers because of the size of our district,” Jolley said. “It’s an awesome job. People don’t realize for the money we get what a job it is.”
A Maryland native who moved to DeSoto County in 1972, Jolley last November was named state Board Member of the Year by the Mississippi School Boards Association.
While Riley has only served one term on the Board of Education, she has been involved in the district for more than 25 years, first as a Title I instructional assistant for reading and math at Hernando Middle School. Riley later moved into the district office and helped develop the Continuing Education program for DCS teachers.
In being elected to the District 4 position in 2012, Riley received 51.61 percent of the vote in defeating two candidates, including incumbent Pat Hurt.
Riley noted the changing demographics of DeSoto County and that all segments need to be heard on school issues.
“We have to be listening to everyone, not just a few,” Riley said. “We have to do our best for everybody. The students come first because we wouldn’t be here without the students, then our teachers and then the community.”
As a native of DeSoto County, Riley wants excellent education for the children of her home county.
“I think we have the best education and I want to keep it the best,” Riley said.
Sept. 7 is the final date for candidates to file for the two board seats up for election on the DeSoto County Board of Education. Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.