HPSD board awards Williams contract extension

By DAVID TISDALE,

Hattiesburg Schools Superintendent Robert Williams received a one-year extension of his contract, following a unanimous vote by the school district’s Board of Trustees at their Jan. 9 regular meeting. The move keeps him as leader of the HPSD through 2021.

Williams, a Crystal Springs native who was tapped in 2016 to lead the district, has worked in the Hattiesburg schools as both a teacher and administrator for more than 16 years, primarily at N.R. Burger Middle School, where he served as principal. He was appointed interim superintendent in the summer of 2016 after the sudden resignation of Janice Johnson from the post. The board of trustees removed the interim tag from his title in November 2016.

“It feels good,” Williams said of the confidence the board expressed in his performance so far with the extension. “It provides more time to implement the plans we have to move the district forward, both academically and to stabilize our finances.”

Marcus Cathey, president of the HPSD Board of Trustees, said the decision to extend Williams’s contract came following an evaluation of his performance by the board during the last month. When hired, Williams was tasked with improving the district’s academics and financial profile, as well as relationships with district stakeholders, and Cathey said he and the board believe he’s succeeded up to now in meeting those those goals. 

“He’s all in,” Cathey said of Williams’ commitment to the district. “We’re very pleased with his work to advance the academic performance of the district and stabilize our financial situation.”

Cathey said that, going forward, he wants Williams and the board to also work on addressing various needs at some school campuses throughout the district that include repairs and infrastructure improvements. 

“Dr. Williams has done an exceptional job in fiscal accountability for the district,” said board member Delores McNair. “I believe he will continue to grow and develop as superintendent.”