Changes sought to Mississippi law on college trustees

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CORINTH, Miss. — A college president and supervisors in a northeast Mississippi county want changes to a law that revised how trustees are appointed for community colleges.

The Daily Corinthian reports that Alcorn County supervisors are unhappy with a law passed by the 2019 Legislature that attempted to remove county school superintendents from community college boards of trustees.

Attorney General Jim Hood’s office in a June opinion advised that the law was defective and that no changes were required.

The law could be interpreted to say that community colleges with two trustees per county must reduce them to one. Counties that host community colleges typically have more trustees. The law also attempts to remove the requirement that a county superintendent of education automatically serve as a trustee, allowing supervisors instead to choose any qualified resident of a county.

The boards are important because Mississippi’s community colleges are supported, in part, by local property taxes. The trustees give each county a voice in how that tax money is spent.

Alcorn County Board of Supervisors attorney Bill Davis said the law appeared to block Alcorn County from appointing a replacement for Larry Mitchell, the outgoing superintendent of the Alcorn County school district. That would leave only one trustee, John Anderson, representing the county on the board of Northeast Mississippi Community College based in Booneville.

“It appears the Legislature has taken away one of our trustees, and since Mr. Anderson is in the middle of his term, we cannot remove him,” said Davis, who recommended supervisors do nothing, citing the attorney general’s opinion.

Northeast Community College President Ricky Ford said he shares supervisors’ concern.

“This is going to have to be addressed again in this legislative session,” he said.

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