South Pike school board trustees met behind closed doors Thursday to narrow a list of 22 applicants to 10 candidates to fill the superintendent’s position.

Who those candidates are remains a mystery, as board members did not identify who is on their short list.

The list of finalists will be handed to the Mississippi School Boards Association, which is assisting in the search.

The association will run background checks and evaluate the qualifications of the finalists.

After the MSBA has finished that, it will return to the school board with its findings and set up interviews.

At this point, the board will assume responsibility for the selection and hiring of the preferred candidate.

Board president Samuel Hall said the advantage of using the association is that it guarantees finding qualified candidates for the position.

In another matter, the board will name an interim superintendent at special meeting set for 9 a.m. Thursday, June 20. That’s  also when the board will hold its public hearing for the 2019-20 budget, which takes effect July 1.

In other business, the board:

• Heard from district employee Cynthia Addison, who asked about salary scales.

“Why are we being denied a raise?” she asked.

Hall responded that the trustees had not finalized or approved salary scales for the upcoming year, and that they would contact Addison directly with more information.

• Heard from high school principal Camita Dillon, who addressed a rumor that she allowed an unsanctioned Class of 1989 reunion to take place on school property.

Dillon said that a member of the class of ’89 asked her for permission to use the school cafeteria to host the event, but she said they would need to call the district office to seek permission.

The individual never acquired the form but arrived at the high school anyway. She said classmates understood that they did not have permission to enter the cafeteria, so they held a picnic held outside on school grounds. Dillon happened to be at work when they arrived and said she only let them access the auditorium because the group had been caught in the rain.

“If anybody was out in the rain, you’d let them in, too,” she said. “I do apologize for breaking district policy, but I’m a human first.”

Dillon went on to say that to leave the group out in the rain would be against her principles.

“As a Christian woman, you don’t leave people to stand out in the rain. You don’t leave community members and alumni out in the rain,” she said.

Hall said that although the actions taken by Dillon came from the right place, it was still inappropriate to break district policy due to considerations of liability.

“You cannot take a chance like that on the school district,” he said. “If somebody had been hurt, we’d be on the line.”

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