Lauderdale County, Miss. "I've changed my mind. I'm going to run again," says Lauderdale County Superintendent Randy Hodges. Newscenter 11 was the first to report in January that Hodges, who has served in that position for ten years, was not planning to seek re-election. He says several factors have led to his change of heart.
"I did get a lot of encouragement to continue to work because this is a critical time in education, and not just in this county, but within Mississippi," says Hodges. "I love what I'm doing. I love the people that I'm working with, and I love the students I serve."
In all, Hodges has worked more than 40 years in the education field. Over the last seven years he says the district has struggled to deal with a recession that has led to more than $6 million in state funding being cut. With only one tax increase during that time, and a next to highest rating for the district, Hodges feels that it's important for the district to stay on its current course.
"I think that one reason that I'm very strong in this position as superintendent for Lauderdale County is because I fully understand the community concept. Yes, we do have to sacrifice to keep all four community schools as they are right now, but it's worth it."
With the next election not until 2016, candidates are expected to start announcing their intentions next year.
"I'm going to fight hard to keep this position because I believe in what we're doing, and where we're heading," says Hodges.
With roughly 6,800 students and 940 employees, the Lauderdale County School District has an overall, 'B' rating. It's budget for the current year is $62 million. In all, about 80% of that money is used to meet personnel needs.