By Jeremy Pittari, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
For the third time this fiscal year the Picayune Municipal Separate School District discovered a shortfall that needed to be covered, but luckily the funds were there to cover it.
With ad valorem collections down, the district did not receive as much as officials expected in order to pay on debts. A short fall of about $170,000 was discovered by District Finance Director Lisa Penton.
She told the district’s school board during Tuesday’s meeting that she needed $63,712 to finish covering the shortfall. She said she already used the remaining $107,000 in a “note retirement fund balance” to cover most of the shortfall.
Penton said the shortfall derived from lower than expected collections on ad valorem taxes. The $63,712, was needed for outstanding debts, which included a roofing project note, construction of the cafetorium, construction of multipurpose buildings at Nicholson and Roseland Park and a shortfall loan from the previous fiscal year. Penton asked the board to take the money from the general operations fund balance. Even with this transfer the general operations fund balance still has about $4.1 million in it, Penton said.
Penton said this is the first time in her tenure at the district she’s encountered this problem.
“I’ve been doing this for 18 years and never ran into this problem,” Penton said.
Before approving a motion to transfer those funds, the board asked Penton to keep an eye on the note retirement fund balance from now on.
“Based on what the economy is doing, it may not be the only time you see this, unfortunately,” said board member Ray Scott.
“This is the third time we’ve had to go into our fund balance, and we can’t keep doing that,” said board member Jimmy Hancock.
Penton said she intends to review the note retirement fund balance in August of the next fiscal year to ensure collections came in the way they should have.
The board approved a motion to make the transfer to cover the difference.
In other business the board approved a motion to accept a bid from Bogalusa-based Ventilite to install new windows at the Nicholson Elementary Cafeteria at a cost of $12,360. Hancock asked, prior to the vote, that the district attempt to get more than two bids in the future for large projects.
Security for sporting events has been reduced for home games. Superintendent Dean Shaw said home games will have nine security officers instead of 12. Away games will continue to have two security officers, said assistant superintendent Brent Harrell.
The board also discussed a recent incident in which bus #30 was forced into a ditch in the Walkiah community by a large truck. Four students were on the bus at the time of the accident, but no injuries were reported, Harrell said.
Picayune Memorial High school will host an art competition at the gym on Saturday May 4. The exact time will be announced at a later date. Picayune Rotary Club member Bill Roberts said six high schools will be competing in the Rotary-sponsored event. Picayune Memorial, Pearl River Central, and Poplarville will be the local high schools showing, along with Hancock High, Bay High and St. Stanislaus.
Roberts said the event will give art students a chance to compete against each other.
“The art students never get to compete like football, baseball and everything else,” Roberts said.
Winners will receive prize money for first, second and third places, and students who choose to do so can put their work into a silent auction where the proceeds will go to them, Roberts said.
The next school board meeting will be at noon in the superintendent’s office on Oct. 23.