Picayune school board delays approval of two 16th section leases

Published 4:48 pm Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Approval of two commercial leases was put off until the next meeting of the school board for the Picayune Municipal Separate School District.

At last night’s meeting, board member Harvey Miller was concerned that the school district might not get as much money from the leases as it could at the current lease length of 40 years, even with an escalator clause in the lease that called for reappraisal of the property every eight years.

“I’m just concerned that 40 years might be too long for property as valuable as this,” Miller said.

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He said commercial property is escalating in value since Hurricane Katrina. He suggested the board not lease the property for more than 10 years and that it be reappraised more often, even though the district has to pay the cost of reappraisal.

Board attorney Gerald Patch initially asked the board to allow him to research the law concerning such leases until the end of the open portion of the meeting. When the board resumed discussion of the leases, Patch said he believes the board could make the leases shorter and that the time between reappraisals could be shorter, but asked the board to delay its vote until he had a chance to discuss the matter with another attorney under retainer to the district specifically for 16th section matters.

The board voted to table the leases until its next meeting. The board also tabled the cancellation of a residential lease at Patch’s request.

On another 16th section matter, the board voted to accept the bid on for preparing land at the old Picayune airport to be planted in pine trees and rejected the bids for preparing a section located in the Stennis Space Center buffer zone for planting so the forester, at his request, could make some changes in bid specifications.

The board heard from interim superintendent Brent Harrell that he has requested accreditation improvement plans from each of the district’s schools. All of the schools are now fully accredited with Roseland Park accredited at level 4, the second highest level, and the other schools accredited at level 3. Harrell said the district’s school accreditation levels had been affected this past year by Hurricane Katrina with the loss of about 350 students who have not returned and the addition of about 350 students from other school districts who came here because of Katrina.

At the suggestion of board member Ginny Dodd, the district’s administration is going to explore an ACT college entrance examination preparation course and adding curriculum on test-taking strategies to classes beginning in the 7th grade.

“I believe this will help us with all our tests,” Dodd said of the test-taking strategy instruction.

Dodd said the ACT preparation effort also should help Picayune students improve their scores as they seek college scholarships and othe aid with paying for college.

In other matters, the board:

— Heard from parent Mrs. Chris Van Dyk who was upset over the early checkout procedures at Picayune Memorial High School.

— Approved personnel matters.

— Approved consent items, including donations fromthe Redlands Christians Migrant Assn. of Immikalee, Fla.; the Mississippi Head Start Assn., and the University of Southern Mississippi.

— Approved holding the PMHS prom aboard a riverboat in New Orleans with the students to be transported to the boat by charter bus.

— Accepted grants of $2,000 from the Mississippi University for Women and of $41,187 from the Hurricane Recovery Act fund for assistance for homelss youth and children.

— Approved an after school program and a summer program for district students.

— Went into executive session on discipline and personnel matters.

Adjourned until 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26.