Supt. Who Led Post-Katrina Recovery of Gulf District Dies

By Michelle A. Anderson — May 05, 2011 2 min read
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Kim Myrick Stasny, one of the many superintendents on the front lines in the aftermath of one of the nation’s most deadliest hurricanes, has died due to brain tumor-related complications. She was 55.

Stasny, who was the superintendent of the Oxford (Miss.) City Schools at the time of her death, gained media attention for leading rehabilitation efforts in the Bay St. Louis-Waveland District after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast school system in August 2005. The hurricane destroyed four of the district’s six schools leading to a 40 percent decline in enrollment.

In February 2006, Education Week featured Stasny and her rehabilitation efforts in a story titled, “The New Normal.” At the time, students—who had missed 47 days of school—were living in temporary homes and were being taught in portable classrooms. Stasny led school officials through weekly meetings with architects, construction firms, and a Federal Emergency Management Association representative in an effort to rebuild the Bay St. Louis-Waveland district.

During the 2005-2006 year, the district spent more than half of its $19 million annual budget on clean-up and renovations and had become one of many districts to criticize FEMA for failing to provide financial assistance in a timely manner.

Oxford City Schools Assistant Superintendent Brian Harvey, who took over for Stasny after she announced a planned two-month medical leave in April, told local news media that the district lost “a wonderful educator, administrator and friend.”

“Dr. Stasny’s compassion and optimism will be missed. She always saw the best in all people and in every situation,” Harvey said.

Stasny joined the Bay St. Louis-Waveland District in 1990 and became the superintendent in 1999. She served in that position for 10 years before becoming the first woman to direct the Oxford City Schools in July 2009. Prior to becoming an administrator, she taught for seven years and went on to become a principal at an elementary school in the Hancock County (Miss.) School District.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., a master’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and a doctorate from the University of New Orleans. She served on the governing boards of the American Association of School Administrators and the Mississippi Association of School Administrators, which awarded Stasny with a “Superintendent of the Year” award before she joined Oxford Schools.

Stasny is survived by her husband, her sister, and her mother.

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.