In a special meeting last week, the McComb school board spent nearly three hours reviewing the school district’s handbook for the 2019-20 school year.

The most noteworthy new policy is for the selection of the senior class valedictorian and salutatorian, which under the prior rules became controversial last May when officials informed one student she was the valedictorian, only to change their mind the day of graduation.

Eventually the Class of 2019 had two valedictorians and one salutatorian, and the school board apologized for the confusion.

The new rules, which apply to this year’s sophomore class and all future classes, specify that candidates must pursue “a traditional diploma with academic or distinguished endorsement.” They must be enrolled at McComb for a minimum of six high school semesters.

The prior rules, put in place in the late 1990s, allowed valedictorian candidates to choose 18 courses for their grade point average. The new rules say the student who holds the highest cumulative weighted grade point average will be the valedictorian, which eliminates the 18-course selection. It also specifies that students’ class ranking will not be used to determine the award.

Unlike most school board meetings, this one attracted several residents, including parents and relatives who attended recent meetings when the board was reviewing the Class of 2019 valedictorian selection process.

In other business trustees:

• Met the new high school assistant principal, Dr. Teresa Dixon, who was at the meeting with principal Robert Lamkin. The board greeted her warmly, but noting that she will live in Byram, trustee Lorraine Gayden said, “That commute is going to be kind of tough.”

• Approved personnel recommendations, with trustee Kizzy Coney voting against them. Coney commented during the discussion that “We need winning coaches with a winning history.”

Trustee Lynn Gilmore asked about the hiring of several nutrition workers, and business manager Susan Cochran said the employees will replace temporary workers used last year. Nutrition salaries also have been increased, she said.

• Approved the transfer of $180,000 from the 16th Section interest fund to buy two new school buses. The board approved the purchase at an earlier meeting.

Trustee Betsy Murrell was not at the meeting.

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