Downey selected as interim Bossier Schools superintendent

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Bossier Parish School Board. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

School Board begins process of hiring new superintendent

By Stacey Tinsley, stinsley@bossierpress.com

Mitch Downey was named the interim Bossier Parish Schools Superintendent at Thursday’s Bossier Parish School Board meeting. 

Downey will serve as Bossier Parish Schools Superintendent until a permanent replacement is named for former superintendent Scott Smith, who retired this week amid reports of a federal investigation.

Downey, who’s been in the Bossier school system for 34 years, had been the school system’s assistant superintendent of administration and personnel. The vote to appoint him was unanimous.

The board formally accepted Smith’s retirement and began the process of choosing a new superintendent.

“I have no doubt in my mind that this board will go through this process fairly and in a timely manner and make the best choice for our next leader for Bossier schools. It’s very vital and very important to not only myself or us as a board, but to our Bossier Parish students, teachers, and staff that we hire someone that will lead us and continue to move us forward, ” said Shane Cheatham, president of the Bossier Parish School Board.

The open position for superintendent will be advertised, with a deadline for candidates to apply for the position of March 20. The first round of interviews and the naming of finalists will be the week of April 15th. The naming of a superintendent is expected by the week of April 22.

Smith announced his retirement on Monday after news broke February 1 that he was under a federal investigation.

After his selection, Downey took the superintendent’s seat among the board and addressed the board and audience.  

“I think this is an opportunity for us to show what we are really made of. Somebody commented today to me that ‘tough times don’t last, tough people do,’ and I think that is very profound. Though we’ve been through difficult times, the needs of our parish haven’t changed. We still need to attract and retain quality teachers to provide the best instructions for our students that we possibly can. Also our technology needs are growing day to day. So we want to continue to pursue that,” Downey said. “We are determined, we are resilient and we are going to continue to work as hard as we possibly can to provide for our students and teachers now and in the future. May 4th is a very important day for our employees and our community.” 

The Bossier Parish School Board recently approved placing two property tax proposals on the May 4 ballot to be approved by voters. 

If both proposals are approved, teachers will receive an annual $7,200 across-the-board raise. Classified employees like bus drivers, secretaries, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers and custodians would receive $3,000 raises. And a dedicated fund source will go towards technology improvements across the district, while there is no dedicated funding source for technology currently.