By Emma Crawford
TUPELO – There are three contested superintendent of education races in Northeast Mississippi that will be decided in Tuesday’s general election.
Benton, Itawamba and Calhoun counties will elect their school districts’ leaders for the next four years.
In Itawamba County, Democratic incumbent Michael Nanney faces Republican Grant Martin.
A third-generation educator, Nanney has worked in education for more than 20 years. He has spent 16 of those in administration.
Nanney said he has three main focuses as a superintendent that he plans to build on in a second term, if re-elected.
School safety, financial responsibility and opportunities for all students, Nanney said, will continue to be his goals.
“This school district seems to be moving in the right direction,” Nanney said. “We have a great school system in Itawamba County. We have great schools, and great people working in them.”
Martin currently teaches seventh-grade science at Mooreville Middle School. He also coaches football, baseball and archery.
Martin worked as a soil scientist before getting into teaching. He said he always had a yearning to teach, so he took the alternate route to become a teacher in 2005.
If elected, Martin said his focus will be on reducing high school dropouts, hopefully through a vocational program at the middle school level, spending district money wisely and finding ways to help students enjoy school.
“We need to take a look at where our priorities are in education,” Martin said. “I feel like we could do a better job of overseeing the money that we do have and make sure that the money goes where it really needs to go.”
Benton County is the only race not featuring an incumbent, as sitting Benton County Superintendent Jack Gadd decided not to run for re-election.
Democrat Steve Bostick will face Republican Ollice Massengill, Jr. on the Benton County ballot.
Bostick is currently director of federal programs for Benton County Schools.
Massengill is a retired Benton County Schools teacher and principal.
Calhoun County’s race will be between Democratic incumbent Mike Moore and Republican candidate Scotty Collins, who is currently principal at Charleston High School.
In Union County, Democrat and incumbent Ken Basil was slated to face Republican Roger Browning on Nov. 3, but Browning was disqualified from the race following the primary.
Browning does not live in the Union County School District, but actually lives in the New Albany Municipal School District.
The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Browning is ineligible to run after the case had first been appealed in circuit court.
Browning’s name will still appear on the ballot, but any votes cast for him will not count.
In the Aug. 25 runoff, Basil defeated Democrat Loretta Hartfield and will serve a third term as superintendent, which starts in January.
Lafayette County, Tishomingo County, North Tippah and South Tippah school districts’ superintendents are appointed.
All municipal school districts in the region have appointed superintendents.
The Clay County School District was recently consolidated with West Point Schools, as were the Oktibbeha County and Starkville School Districts.
Those consolidated districts have appointed superintendents.
Alcorn, Pontotoc, Lee and Prentiss County school districts’ races were decided by the primary election.
Chickasaw County’s Betsy Collums, Marshall County’s Jerry Moore and Monroe County’s Scott Cantrell did not face opponents this year.