All three candidates running for the second district seat on the Alcorn School District Board of Education have at least one thing in common – they all have children or grandchildren who attend a school in the district.
Those in the race include Brandon Jones, Ann Little and Pherbia Mynatt.
Jones said he decided to run for school board because of his children.
“I have a vested interest in making Alcorn County schools better,” said Jones, who with wife Crystal have two children at Alcorn Central Elementary School and two who will attend ACES in the future.
Facility upgrades are important to Jones.
“The facilities at Central are in bad shape,” said the Strickland resident. “There’s no reason why the floors and bathrooms have to be in such poor condition. I feel like our children should be better taken care of.”
Jones co-owns Affordable Tree Service with his brother, Jamie. The Alcorn Central graduate is also an active PTO member and youth league baseball coach.
Making county schools more appealing to students and parents is one of his priorities.
“It’s going to continue to be hard to get them to want to go to school in Alcorn County if academics, athletics and facilities are down,” said Jones. “Something needs to be done. The Alcorn School District should be run like a business and the right decisions need to be made when spending money.”
The 32-year-old believes closing more schools will only hurt more feelings.
“I’ve been through it already. My kids went to Glen ... but at the same time, if it’s the best thing to do for the children then it has to be done,” he said. “I’m not for closing schools or against it – it really just depends on the situation.”
Little, a retired teacher, said she has done the research on school consolidation.
“Fifteen states have small school initiatives,” she said. “People are realizing that large schools are not what’s best for the children.”
A graduate of Alcorn Central, Northeast Mississippi Community College, Blue Mountain College and Mississippi State University, Little is a board certified English and language arts teacher. She taught approximately 30 years in the Alcorn School District including stints at Kossuth, Union Center and Alcorn Central.
“I want to serve,” she said. “I am at a time in my life when I want to do everything I can to make our schools the very best they can possibility be.”
A resident of Glen, Little with husband Harold has two grown children including a son who is a Biggersville High School coach. She also has two grandchildren, one of which is a student in the school district.
Little said she wants to see a broader curriculum at all three schools.
“We primarily focus on math and reading, but there so many other skills that are important,” she said. “Students excel in many other areas and we need to be giving them the opportunity to grow and develop.”
As a former teacher, the 66-year-old said it’s her experiences in the classroom that will help her as a board member make the best decisions for the district.
“I intend to do what is best for all students and teachers,” added Little. “I plan to be fair and do as much research as necessary before making decisions.”
In the last five years, Mynatt has rarely missed a school board meeting.
“I have always set back and shaken my head at some of the things the board has made decisions on ... I haven’t always agreed,” she said. “Running for school board is not something that many people would jump at the chance to do, but somebody’s got to do it.”
Mynatt said several tough decisions lie ahead for the board.
“We’re in a money crunch, constant talk of consolidation and a new superintendent ...” said Mynatt. “A lot of things are about to happen – the board has got to be ready to make some hard decisions”
The 43-year-old has lived in Alcorn County with her husband Glen for the last 24 years. They have four children including one grown daughter, one daughter at Mississippi School of Math and Science, a son at Gateway Christian School and a daughter at Alcorn Central Middle School. Originally from South Mississippi, Mynatt also volunteers with the Alcorn Central boosters and REACH.
The Strickland resident did agree education should remain first.
“Getting student education to a higher level is crucial,” said Mynatt. “Having a child who has graduated and has now moved on to college, I’ve noticed that a lot wasn’t taught to her. We have to stop Alcorn County children from being at a disadvantage when they graduate.”