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School board approves budget for next school year

The Picayune Municipal Separate School District has its budget for next year, and despite apparently proposing to spend more money than it took in at the budget hearing, the budget distributed to the school board last night showed more income than spending.

District financial manager Lisa Penton explained to the school board that the budget figures its members saw at the budget hearing earlier this month were based on estimated salaries. The budget they saw last night was based on actual salaries. Figured that way, the district is taking in $388,293 more than it spent.

Penton said the board could amend the budget later in the year to reflect any spending that would utilize the extra funds.

“I didn’t try to balance the books because I didn’t think I should be telling the board how to spend the money,” Penton said.

Board member Duane Wheat, grumbling that he felt he hadn’t had enough time to review the budget with the new figures voted against its approval. The budget was approved on a 3-1 vote, with member Ginny Dodd absent from the meeting.

In other good news she gave the board, Penton said the district is asking for less tax money than it asked for last year with its ad valorem tax resolution. This year the board is asking for $6.2 million as opposed to $6.3 million last year. The board unanimously approved the budget timeline and debt service resolutions, noting that the 2006-2007 school year is the final year of payment on the general obligation bonds.

Local insurance agent Grady Thigpen also gave the school board some good news. Picayune is one of the few school districts in South Mississippi that will have wind coverage this next year.

Thigpen said the strength and condition of the school district’s buildings are the reason it is being allowed to buy wind coverage. Thigpen specifically singled out school buildings and maintenance manager Arnold Smith and his crew for the approval of the district to be covered for wind damage.

The board approved the Thigpen insurance agency’s bids on general liability, property and errors and omissions insurance.

At the end of the meeting, Superintendent Dr. Penny Wallin told the board that the district’s summer camp has been a success and has drawn a large number of out-of-district visitors, including a deputy undersecretary of agriculture and an ABC news team that filmed a story on the summer camp to be aired perhaps later this week or next.

Board member Harvey Miller made a motion, after Wallin’s update, to allow district employees who work over the summer to have Monday, July 3, off as part of the Fourth of July holiday. He said the district employees had put in a lot of extra time and effort following Hurricane Katrina to help get the district back up and running. He said giving them the extra day off would be the form of a “thank-you” to the employees for that extra effort.

The motion was approved unanimously, contingent on board attorney Gerald Patch determining that it would be legal and that the district wouldn’t be put in the position of having to pay back money for allowing the extra paid holiday.

Miller, who is purchasing agent for the City of Picayune, said the City Council earlier Tuesday approved Monday as an additional holiday for city employees for their extra work and effort following Hurricane Katrina.

In other matters, the board:

— Approved personnel matters.

— Approved consent items, including donations.

— Approved the consolidated federal program grant application.

— Approved the 2006-2007 IDEIA, Part B and preschool budget.

— Approved psychometric fees for 2006-2007 school year.

— Approved the substitute handbook.

— Approved the security agreement.

— Approved the drivers education application for the 2006-2007 school year.

— Approved the drivers education summer simulator application for June 2006.

— Approved school bus turnarounds.

— Approved the school wellness policy.

— Went into executive session on discipline and personnel matters.

Adjourned.