Sally Bullard announced in a social media post earlier on Friday that she will not seek reelection to the School Board. Bullard currently represents the 5th district and has done so with distinction.
The school board is probably the most thankless publicly elected position one can have, other than maybe the election commission. As a school board member, you are bound by bylaws to keep your mouth shut publicly on a lot of things. Also, it is a majority rules group and you may not agree with something, but you are bound to it if the majority of the board votes for it. Bullard’s dad was in politics and served as the mayor of Vicksburg in the 70s. Her mother, who passed just a year and a half ago, was involved in improving Vicksburg for decades, serving on numerous boards and supporting everything.
Also about a year and a half ago, the Vicksburg Daily News posted a story on Chad Shealy’s salary. A day later a story about teachers’ pay being late was posted. That one-two punch of stories set off a firestorm of negative comments from the community.
I was shocked. I thought the community was a fan of the school board and district like me. Boy, was I ever wrong!
Subsequently, several other stories broke over the next 6 months that painted an ugly picture of the school district. I ran into Sally while out in the community and asked her about it, she said she “Didn’t think the Vicksburg Daily News presented a balanced picture of the school district.” She also conceded that all of our stories were factual.
That disconnect is frustrating and I think it represents the issues with the school board and their relations with the public. The district is doing some amazing things. A lot of those things are a direct result of this school board’s efforts, including Sally Bullard.
We’ve updated our schools and the district has given us a lot to be proud about. The Academy of Innovation and River City Early College are world-class education facilities. Leaders in the field of education travel to Vicksburg to marvel at what we have accomplished. Bullard and the board are to be commended for it.
But there remains a disconnect. For some reason, the district does not overwhelm local media with releases and reports showcasing their amazingness. Getting the word out to the community should be a key part of the board’s efforts. Positive stories from the district should overwhelm the local media to the point that any bump in the road will be understood as just a bump in the road. With that projected $126,354,882 revenue stream, you would think we could afford someone whose job it is to send out positive news all the time. They could also quickly address any negative stories.
Sally Bullard, I can also testify that you make a hell of a sandwich in addition to being one of the most successful restauranteurs in a tough restaurant market. Your children are a delight and you struck gold with your husband – a kind man that can cook and clean!
Thank you Sally for making Vicksburg a better place and may you enjoy all the success and stress-free time that you deserve.
To whoever decides to run for Sally’s seat, good luck. It is a thankless job and no matter what you do, you will make people angry. But, for the love of all that is good, direct resources and efforts to let the community know what amazing things the district is doing. Send out those stories all week, every week, even during the summer, winter and spring breaks. Showcase these amazing educators and their assistants. Make a big deal out of that kid that went from just getting by to getting an “A”.
Back that up with results that take our district from its current ranking, however unfair it may be, to an improved ranking. In short, win the community over.
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