By Jeremy Pittari, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
Some school board members believe they need to be directly involved with the establishment of district goals that are used to evaluate the district superintendent, while a majority of board members approved a motion to instead proceed with goals established by the district administration in April of last year.
That matter came up at the end of Tuesday’s meeting of the school board for the Picayune Municipal Separate School District. Board members Ray Scott and Jimmy Hancock expressed concern with approving a set of goals established by the superintendent and district administration in April of 2011. Scott suggested the board hold a public workshop that would include public comments and board involvement to establish a new set of goals. Scott said the board conducts evaluations on the district superintendent based on how well the goals are met, but if the goals are established by the superintendent instead of the board, it creates an issue. Scott also noticed that four to five of the goals established in April are actually part of the superintendent’s day to day job, such as setting up a school calendar.
Scott suggested the board hold a public workshop with the superintendent and the rest of the district administration to establish a new set of goals. The proposed workshop would allow the district residents to attend and share their insight. He believes if the board and the district administration work together to establish a set of goals, then it would help the schools within the district get better grades and improve students learning.
District Curriculum Coordinator Vera Beech said the focus of the April 2011 set of goals is helping students improve their grades. However goals can be misleading, she said. There was an instance last year where a number of junior high students improved their test scores, but the school as a whole still fell a grade. The problem is trying to determine and plan for unknown factors, Beech said. “We’re in a real world situation,” Beech said.
Board member Frank Feeley disagreed with Scott, and believes the board should support the district superintendent and administration.
“It seems like we’re on a hunt for the superintendent,” Feeley said.
After the discussion Hancock made a motion to table acceptance of the goals established in April of 2011, and to hold a workshop with the board and district administration to establish new goals. Scott was the only other member to vote for Hancock’s motion, with Feeley, board president Edward Stubbs, and board member Patti Stewart voting against it. After that motion failed, Feeley made a motion to accept the goals from April of 2011, which Stewart and Stubbs supported. Hancock and Scott voted against that motion. Feeley’s motion passed.
In a separate matter, former city council member and local property owner Leavern Guy addressed the board concerning rising taxes for 16th section land. By his estimate, the appraisals on 16th section land have increased by as much as 96 percent, but other properties in the county have seen their assessments decrease. He said one of his properties on Greenview Drive saw taxes increase from $188 to $368.
“To me it don’t make no sense, it really don’t,” Guy said.
Stubbs said the district had to use a different appraisal value to assess taxes this year. District Financial Administrator Lisa Penton said recent changes set forth by the state mandate the district to increase the tax rate from 3.65 percent to 5 percent, accounting for the increase. Penton also said about 38 leases were affected by the change, but Guy is the only one to complain.
Guy, who exceeded the five minutes allotted to him and continued to debate the issue with the board until Stubbs called a point of order and informed Guy the board would reassess the matter and get back to him.
The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 27 at noon.