CARROLLTON — The Carroll County School Board has named its new superintendent of education.

Board President Kenneth DeLoach announced Thursday night at a school board meeting that James “Jim” Ray has accepted the position, effective Jan. 1, The Conservative, the newspaper in Carrollton, reported.

Jim Ray

Ray

Ray is currently principal of East Webster High School in Cumberland.

Current Superintendent Billy Joe Ferguson’s elected term will end Dec. 31, and state law now mandates that all school superintendents be appointed.

Earlier this year, the school board opted by a 3-2 vote to not offer the job of running the 900-student district to Ferguson, who has served as superintendent for 20 years.

Ferguson told a packed house at Thursday’s meeting that he was OK with the board’s decision, according to The Conservative.

“I told them if they can find someone better for the job, to hire him, and they did so. I guess that means I have to go,” he said.

“But I’ve enjoyed working here. I’ve enjoyed working with the teachers and the students. I’ve been to 300 meetings, and this was the best one I’ve ever attended. I feel like James Brown. I feel good!”

Ray’s hiring comes on the heels of a critical investigative audit by the Mississippi Department of Education that found the Carroll County district in violation of a dozen state regulations. A letter accompanying the audit said that MDE would be recommending to the Commission on School Accreditation that the district be put on probation over the violations, which include reporting inaccurate payroll information to the state and board interference in the district’s day-to-day operations.

Ferguson has said the district plans to file a response to the audit prior to the commission’s Oct. 3 meeting, when the matter is expected to be taken up.

Ray is the second person to be offered the position of superintendent. An earlier unnamed candidate turned down the job.

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