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Oxford School Board has new president

Marian Barksdale will resume a familiar role with the school district starting March 5.

Barksdale was named the new Oxford School District School Board president during its regular meeting Monday night. She was elected by her peers to serve and will take the place of Whitney Byars, whose term on the board is expiring.

“I’m honored to be elected and sad to lose Whitney Byars as a board member,” Barksdale said. “She’s rotating off and that’s why we had to change officers. We’re going to miss her greatly. I’m willing to step in and serve as president.”

The board president’s term typically runs from July to July, but since Byars’ term ended the board had a special election. Barksdale will serve until this summer when the board has another election in late June.

Barksdale has lived in Oxford for more than 15 years and has already served as president for two terms, from July 2012 to July 2014.

“I immediately jumped in and got involved in the schools,” she said about when she first moved here.

The Oxford Board of Aldermen will name Byars’ replacement on the board and there are currently five candidates who applied for the position. They include:

• Merrill Nordstrom, an attorney with Coghlan Law Firm, attended Oxford High School

• Calvin “Buck” Buchanan, attorney, former U.S. attorney, former deputy U.S. attorney, local businessman

• Lynn Wilkins, current grantwriter for city of Oxford and is experienced in the nonprofit field

• Ray Hill, attorney with Clayton O’Donnell law firm, Oxford resident the past 20 years

• Betsy Smith, owner of McDonald’s franchises in Oxford, three school-aged children and involved in PTO

Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson said the Board of Aldermen will meet Friday at noon and interview the candidates and if anyone needs to come in for a second interview, that will take place Tuesday before the regular board meeting.

Patterson said the group should have a decision by Tuesday to go up for a vote.

“We’ve got five well-qualified applicants that are involved in the community and the school system,” he said. “I don’t know how we could go wrong with any of the five. I’m glad I don’t have to vote on this.”