When the Pine Bluff School Board convenes for its regular monthly meeting Tuesday evening it will do so with five new faces on the seven member panel following the selection of challengers in the Sept. 18 board election and subsequent Oct. 9 runoff vote.
• Zone 1 representative Harold Jackson and Zone 5 representative Ken Dickson faced no opposition and remain as the two incumbent directors.
• Zone 2 is represented by Phyllis A. Wilkins. The seat had been held by Ellen Nichol.
• Zone 3 is represented by Piccola Washington. The incumbent was Herman Horace.
• Zone 4 is represented by Henry Dabner Jr. The position was formerly held by Freddie Johnson.
• Zone 6 is represented by Leon Jones Sr., a position previously held by Donna Barnes.
• Zone 7 is represented by Andrea Roaf-Little. The incumbent was Chandra Griffin.
The new board will elect officers as part of its duties Tuesday evening.
Kymara Seals is a Pine Bluff School District parent who became an advocate for board member accountability when the dispute between the members of the school board and the then-superintendent Jerry O. Payne achieved public notoriety in the spring of this year.
“The entire community has high expectations,” Seals said Friday. “It appears that there was a record turnout for the Pine Bluff School Board elections. We are going to be watching and participating in the process. We as parents are going to do our part for student achievement. We don’t want to happen to our district what happened to Dollarway (which was taken over by the state.) Everybody involved has a part to play.”
“We’re looking forward to this board doing their part to move this district forward and coming in with the focus and priority of student achievement,” Seals said. “We want them to be respectful of one another, the administration, the parents and the community. We want to be a part of the solution as parents in the community. Many parents are stepping up their involvement a notch. It’s a team effort.”
Seals said that people are enthusiastic about the leadership of interim superintendent Linda Watson.
“We’re excited about this superintendent,” Seals said. “She is off to a good start. I’ve heard her talk about student achievement and her plan to get there and that resonates with us. We look forward to the board and superintendent Watson working together for the good of the district. She has identified the problem and a plan of action to correct it. We are excited about that. I am impressed with her passion.”
Pine Bluff attorney Gene McKissic was the driving force behind an effort by members of the business community to gather enough signatures by Pine Bluff voters to force the school board to hold an open forum for the purpose of explaining to the public why it decided to terminate Payne’s contract.
“The voters have spoken,” McKissic said of the vote outcome. “It was the voters who made their voices heard. I hope the best for this board in terms of being responsive to the whole community. There are some competent and concerned people who were elected and I hope that they do a good job.”
The regular monthly meeting of the PBSD Board of Directors will take place Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the board room of the PBSD Administrative Center at 512 S. Pine St.