Aldermen name new school board member

Pass Christian

Margaret Jean Kalif was appointed last week by the Pass Christian Board of Aldermen to fill a spot on the Pass Christian school board spot, although only two aldermen voted because of conflicts of interest and abstentions.

Kalif will now begin a five-year term next month when current school board member Rebecca Montgomery’s term expires.

Earlier this year, three people–Montgomery, Dr. Richard O’Briant, and Kalif–expressed interest in the position.

Montgomery had served on the school board since the late ’90s and had served as board president for nine years.

During that time, officials said, the Pass Christian School District has flourished into one of the top districts in the state with two star schools, one high-performing school, and one successful school.

However, when her term began drawing to a close in January, she did not get an automatic reappointment from the board of aldermen.

Mayor Leo “Chipper” McDermott said last week that the appointment was totally up to the board of aldermen.

“We have never really had a procedure for this type of thing,” McDermott said. “It was the board’s decision on how they wanted to do it.”

The board chose to open the positions up for nominations and three people were nominated, McDermott said.

Alderman At-Large Renee Brooks then hosted a forum last week at the Pass Christian Boys and Girls Club to hear from the three candidates.

“This forum is for residents and myself to learn more about the school board and the candidates,” Brooks said last week. “Our students and our community deserve the best candidate.”

Although all five aldermen were present at the forum, only three of the five aldermen could vote on the appointment.

McDermott said that since board members Anthony Hall (Ward Three) and Huey Bang (Ward Four) both have spouses who work for the school district, they could not vote on the appointment.

The other three aldermen, Brooks, Rory Rafferty (Ward One), and Joseph Piernas Sr. (Ward Two) have all nominated a different person, McDermott said.

“They all nominated someone different,” he said. “That does not mean they have to vote for that person, though.”

The Pass Christian School Board is made up of five members, three of whom are appointed by the city council; the other two are elected.

Board members serve five-year terms with one position becoming open for re-appointment or re-election each year.

At the board of aldermen meeting the next evening, Kalif was appointed by a 2-0-1 vote.

Brooks and Piernas voted in favor of Kalif and Rafferty abstained, McDermott said.

Kalif is a former teacher and alderman in Pass Christian.
Kalif said Tuesday she is “ecstatic” about the opportunity to serve the community.

“It’s all about the students and teachers,” she said. “We have a great community and I want to continue the success the school district has had over the past decade.”

Kalif is a former Pass Christian alderman, serving from 1989-2001. She also worked in the education field for 35 years as a teacher in Harrison County.

After Hurricane Katrina, she has been very active in community affairs and served on the historical committee and sign committee.

She has also served as a volunteer for various city recovery projects.

“I don’t think I ever left public service,” she said. “This is an honor.”

BY: Dwayne Bremer

The Sea Coast Echo

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