DeSoto County Schools Monday announced at its regular school board meeting new administrative assignments as the district moves closer to having all of its principal positions filled for the new school year.
The most notable move came from Olive Branch High School, where principal Allyson Killough leaves to become the next principal at Career Tech Center-West in Horn Lake.
In her place, the district approved the appointment of Jacob Stripling as Olive Branch High School principal.
Killough has led Olive Branch High for four years and Supt. Cory Uselton said in a release that she will be a great fit in the job of leading career education at the new Horn Lake center.
“Allyson Killough has been a strong instructional leader at Olive Branch High School and she is moving to a critical role as principal of Career Technical Center West,” Uselton said. “Our school district is a leader in career technical education and she is a perfect fit as we continue to enhance this program. We are excited to see what she will accomplish in her new role.”
Stripling has led Center Hill Middle School the past three years to become one of the top middle schools in Mississippi. He has also served the district as assistant principal at Hernando High School and Horn Lake Middle School.
“Center Hill Middle School has been one of the highest-performing middle schools in the state during Jacob Stripling’s tenure as principal, “Uselton said. “He will bring strong leadership skills to his new role as principal of Olive Branch High School. He is excited about being a part of the pride and tradition of Olive Branch High School and he looks forward to working with the Olive Branch students, teachers, community and alumni base.”
Stripling, introduced at Monday night’s board meeting, said he was ready to hit the ground running.
“I have a notebook of things here,” Stripling said, gesturing to material he was carrying in his arm. “I’ve got some homework to do tonight.”
The new leader for Olive Branch High School enters the new position with more than just academic decisions to make, however. He must help fill the current head coaching vacancy in the Conquistadors’ football program, which Killough recently opened again with the dismissal of Pete Hurt as head coach after a winless 2016 season.
Killough had to deal with four years of new football coaches during each year of her tenure, which began with the dismissal of Scott Samsel in what became a public dispute between the two that led to a lawsuit that has now been settled.
Samsel assistant Jeremy Toungett was similarly let go after a year as head coach and Steve Buckley was brought in and coached a year before resigning to lead the program at Jones County Junior College. Hurt was hired before the last school year began and released from his coaching duties earlier this spring.
Taking over at Center Hill Middle School as principal will be Larry Hood, who has been assistant principal at middle schools in Olive Branch and Hernando and at DeSoto Central High School.
“Larry Hood has been a very successful assistant principal at both the middle school and high school level,” Uselton said. “We are confident that he will be an excellent leader for Center Hill Middle School.”
In other action from Monday’s meeting, board members renewed an agreement with Kelly Services to provide substitutes teachers and staffers.
The district this year put out a request for bids, despite having Kelly Services as provider for a number of years. The request came when Kelly changed the method of filling positions this past year that caused some spots not to be filled.
“They have always handled problems very well,” said Associate Supt. for Personnel Van Alexander. “We actually had staffing issues this year. We had unfilled positions that we have not had in the past. As a committee member, I was very excited to hear that they were going back to what they have done in the past.”
Three bids were received, including the Kelly Services bid, which Alexander said the committee recommended, despite it not being the low bid, but rather the best bid.
PESG of Mississippi had the lower bid at $81.23 per short term and $136.20 per long term position, against Kelly Services at $85.15 per short term and $142.79 per long term, or longer than five weeks, position.
After clarification from board attorney Keith Treadway that the board could move forward on the Kelly Services bid, board members unanimously approved its acceptance.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.