The West Point School District has its new leader.
Following an extensive search for the next superintendent, the West Point School District's Board of Trustees has named Burnell McDonald, who has served as principal at South Side Elementary for the past six years, as the man for the job.
McDonald was approved by a unanimous 5-0 vote by the school board and will succeed the outgoing Steve Montgomery as superintendent. "I am excited to get this opportunity, and I know that with the opportunity comes a great deal of responsibility," said McDonald. "The mission here in West Point will remain the same, and that means that everything we do will be for the students of this district."
McDonald will start in his new post on July 1, a day after Montgomery steps down.
“I have no doubt in my mind that Mr. McDonald is the right man for the job,” said Montgomery on Monday morning. “He has proven that he has the ability to lead, and he has an exemplary record of professional and achievement at South Side.”
McDonald became principal at South Side in 2005, and became the first principal in the district to achieve a “Successful” rating from the state board of education for two consecutive years. Raised in Madison, McDonald earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education at Mississippi State University, where he also earned a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership. In addition to his stint at South Side, McDonald has also served as principal at West Clay Elementary and he's also led schools in Houston and Starkville.
He was named the West Point School District's Administrator of the Year for the 2008-09 school year, and has become one of the most respected administrators in the district.
The chance to stay in West Point and take over a district that he's grown familiar is an advantage, according to McDonald.
“I think the fact that I've been here is going to help in the short-term,” McDonald said. “I already know the system, and I know we have good people in place at all levels of the district. As we go forward, I will be working closely with Mr. Montgomery to make sure that I am acclimated to the job and that we make the right personnel decisions for the district heading into next year.”
McDonald's hiring ends a process which lasted nearly two months after Montgomery announced his impending retirement in early March. In all, 17 candidates applied for the position – "A relatively high number," according to Montgomery – and seven candidates were interviewed.
"There were some outstanding candidates in the running for this position," said Montgomery, "but in the end, I think the school board did an outstanding job of conducting a fair, thorough search. And I believe they picked the right man for the job."