Candidate Q&A

Monroe County School District

School Board Election 2022

Our public education questionnaire was offered to school board candidates in the November 8 school board elections. Search below for responses from board districts that have opposing candidates. Unopposed candidates are not included.

District 2

Sam Mitchell



Cassandra Morris

1.  What has been your involvement with the community and school district? Describe your leadership and volunteerism in the community. Did you or your children attend school in the district? Have you volunteered in or been employed by the school district?  I am a 1998 graduate from the Monroe County School District (Hatley). My husband and I have two children enrolled in the district as well, grades 5th and 3rd. Serving our staff and teachers as a PTO member since our oldest began kindergarten is something that led me to learn firsthand how much parent involvement means to our teachers. For two years I served as the PTO president at Hatley, and I am currently the PTO president at the Smithville schools. My involvement with the district, aside from serving on the PTO at two of the three district schools, is my attendance to board meetings for the last couple of years. Attending the school board meetings has given me insight to board operations, and how they directly affect not only our children, but the teachers, administration, and staff of the county schools.
2.  Why do you want to serve on your school board?  My desire to serve on the Monroe County school board is to make sure that parents and concerned citizens are given a voice. Our current board reflects only one parent of a school age child(ren). For far too long the MCSD school board members haven’t directly reflected school-aged children. The decisions made weren’t with any involvement or advisement from the parents or concerned citizens as the primary focal point, as I feel it should be. Our school board should reflect the parents of the children enrolled in our school system, as we daily are witness to school activities, and procedures as they affect our children. By focusing on our children first, we will see a better and brighter future for them, and that is my main priority.
3.  Students from low-income households often need additional resources to achieve academic success. What should your school district do to ensure that all students are successful?  By making sure that all money allocated to the district is sourced properly, we can ensure the educational success of all children, from all financial backgrounds.
4.  What strategies would you support to create a safer school environment?  What can your school district do to address cyberbullying, mental health, and physical safety?  Cyber bullying should be a NO TOLERANCE offense. Following through thoroughly on all accusations should be a top priority of our district and schools. The children of today are the adults of our tomorrow, and we must do all we can to ensure their mental and physical safety. It’s our duty to protect them, whatever the cost. I have several ideas to investigate for this. Our schools would benefit from a (old school) big sister/brother program, allowing exemplary upper classmen to have a fun, positive, direct impact on the younger students (supervised of course).
5.  What do you see as the most pressing infrastructure needs facing your district?  Our schools could all use some structural updates. We have student enrollment in some schools that outnumber our classroom capacity. There are several ways we can overcome this, although I won’t list them all, but land utilization is one.
6.  Mississippi school districts are funded by a mix of federal, state, and local funds. The state contributes to local school districts through the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP). MAEP is intended to fund teacher salaries, retirement and benefits, transportation costs, facility maintenance and utilities, special education and other programs, but it is underfunded statewide this year by $279-million. What role will you play in advocating for full funding of MAEP for your district?  The first step is to gain the board member seat to have access to the fiscal expenses and budget to see what avenues can be taken to try and lighten the burden and shine light on ways to implement cuts, as needed.
7.  Vouchers for private school tuition and online schools divert public funds away from public schools. Do you agree that tax dollars should be used for only public schools and not for non-public schools? Why or why not?  Our tax dollars that are allocated for schools, should be used in the public school system, as tuition for private schools helps fund them. Our teachers are our greatest asset, and they should be valued as such, and pulling money from our public schools into private schools, who have more private funding, doesn’t serve our public-school teachers.
8. In Mississippi, academic standards are set by the Mississippi Department of Education and local districts choose curricula from an MDE approved list. Do you trust educators in your district to teach using their professional judgement and training or should teaching be further regulated by school board policy or law? If you believe teaching should be further regulated, how so?  School teachers, I feel, have a calling to mold the minds of our children. I personally trust their education, their intuition, and their insight for the best educational path for our children. Board members aren’t all qualified to make those decisions, as they don’t all (usually) possess the education to have as valued an input as someone who’s received their teaching degree.
9. Mississippi is experiencing a severe teacher shortage. What strategies will you support to recruit and retain high quality educators?  Our teachers deserve better. Without our teachers, we are nothing in the way of an educational system. I want to see a Mississippi where teachers feel HEARD, validated, SUPPORTED, and encouraged to be their best. Sadly, more often than realized, our teachers are discouraged and not supported by their own administration. Some school boards put less concern on directly supporting their teachers, hence leaving their teachers feeling helpless and frustrated. When this happens, you have teachers leave. It’s time to serve our teachers!

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