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The school board in Memphis has an open seat. Here’s how to apply for it.

Shelby County government building in downtown Memphis.
Shelby County government building in downtown Memphis.
Laura Faith Kebede/Chalkbeat

Shelby County commissioners will select an interim school board member next month, and interested candidates can apply as of Tuesday. The appointee will fill the seat Teresa Jones vacated following her recent appointment as a municipal court judge.

The county commission is scheduled to name a successor on Monday, Feb. 25, a day before the school board’s meeting that month. The interim member would join the school board at a crucial time, amid the search for a new superintendent, and would serve until October. That’s when an election will be held to fill the seat until August 2020, when Jones’ term would have ended.

Former school board member Teresa Jones.
Former school board member Teresa Jones.
Laura Faith Kebede/Chalkbeat

Jones’ district serves neighborhoods including North Memphis, Binghampton, and Berclair.
Applicants for her seat will be required to answer nine education policy questions (see below) to help commissioners “make an objective, informed decision,” Commissioner Michael Whaley said Monday evening.

Those interested must apply online by Thursday, Feb. 14. Interviews are slated for Wednesday, Feb. 20.

The new member could play a role in developing the process for the superintendent search. The former district leader, Dorsey Hopson, announced his resignation two months ago, and the interim superintendent started last week.

Board Chairwoman Shante Avant has said she expects the new superintendent to be in place by August, but the board could alternately choose to extend the search into the next calendar year.

The interim appointment would be the third new member of the Shelby County Schools board in the past year. The other two, Joyce Dorse-Coleman and Michelle Robinson McKissack, defeated incumbents in August’s election.

The county commission appointed Jones in 2011, and she won two subsequent elections, one of which was uncontested. She served as board chairwoman for two years.

Below are the policy questions that will be included in the application:

  • What is your vision for this role and the Shelby County Schools board?
  • What does equity look like in the Shelby County Schools system? How would you work to ensure that the board governs with equity as a core value?
  • Why would the people of District 2 be excited about your appointment? Why might some of your prospective constituents in District 2 be opposed to your appointment?
  • How should the interim superintendent be evaluated? (including academic, operational, or financial metrics you would suggest using in that evaluation)
  • In your opinion, how should the board approach the selection of a permanent superintendent and what are the three most important qualities, skills, or characteristics you will look for in the next superintendent?
  • What is your opinion of the recently released Shelby County Schools footprint analysis and plan? What role should Shelby County Schools charter schools and the Achievement School District play in the execution of the facility plan?
  • How can the board best manage the overall performance of the district?
  • What types of interventions, strategies, or innovations do you support to improve struggling schools?
  • What is your opinion of the statewide assessment of TNReady?

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