School board discusses replacing superintendent, but takes no action

Published 7:54 pm Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The appointment of a permanent Picayune School District Superintendent to replace Dr. Penny Wallin was pushed to executive session for further discussion with no action taken during Tuesday’s Picayune School Board meeting. The meeting took place after the school board toured each school in the district.

That matter of business was not the only to be moved to executive session.

Board member Duane Wheat made a motion to move two items under the 16th section matters to executive session but to no avail after a debate between Wheat and board attorney Gerald Patch about the proper procedure.

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Four issues were proposed in the 16th section matters. They included advertising for bids for tree planting on 196 acres, site preparation that included burning of another 140 acres, to approve the null and void of a cancellation of a property lease at 1834 Palestine Road, and to approve the new annual rental for a plot of land by C.M. Lisenbea. Wheat asked to move the last two items to executive session but when Chairman Reese Moody asked the purpose of moving the issues to executive session, Wheat then requested to move only the null and void cancellation to executive session.

Following a debate over Debate as to whether the board should move the items and after Patch read the laws to Wheat, the board discussed the matter in open session.

Wheat said his objection was based on the fact that in a previous matter, a person who leased 16th section land was evicted from the land after the lease was canceled and not allowed back in. The property on Palestine road had a similar issue when Lisenbea failed to meet City of Picayune standards since the land needed cleaning up. After numerous attempts to reach Lisenbea and have the situation remedied, a cancellation notice was sent to Lisenbea who then responded and cleaned up the property. Wheat said he had a problem with the fact that the client of the Palestine Road property could get back into the lease while the other client could not.

The board approved all four of the issues in the 16th section matters.

Affordable homes are a rare commodity in post Katrina Picayune and Pearl River County, but Habitat for Humanity is trying to change that for needy families who qualify. Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors president Bob Niemi asked the school board if it would consider leasing some 16th section land to Habitat for Humanity so the organization can build homes for needy families. Wheat found a problem with Niemi’s proposal.

“I’m going to be upfront, I’m not for it,” Wheat said. “These people don’t understand what they are getting into, in 20 years they’ll think they own that property.”

Wheat said he has witnessed similar situations take place where the people who buy the homes and think the land is theirs even though it is leased to them by the school district. Niemi said he planned to be upfront with the prospective home buyers if the board decided to consider his proposal.

“Our main thing is we want to help people who are in need,” Niemi said.

No action was taken on the matter.

The board went into executive session for the consideration of a superintendent recommendation, discipline matters, parent and student matters and personnel matters. When they came out of executive session the board took no action on the superintendent recommendation, and approved a student discipline matter and a personnel matter, interim superintendent Brent Harrel said.

In other business the board;

— Accepted donations from McDonald’s for $500 to the Picayune High School for a band trip; from Picayune Evening Lion Charity to South Side Elementary, Nicholson Elementary and Roseland Park Elementary for $50 to each school for a peace poster; Knights of Columbus for $500 to exceptional education; Dub Herring Ford for $150; First National Bank for $100, Jackson Landing Food Mart for $432, and James Furniture for $100 all for 60 football player yard signs, seven coach yard signs and “We Believe” buttons and signs that showed support for the team in a recent playoff game; and from the Touchdown Booster Club for $200 for a four-by-eight-foot Division Champ 8-4A sign for the field house.

— Approved a request from Resurrection Life Worship Center to use school buses and drivers over the Christmas break to take a retreat.

— Approved applying for grants with Bell South Foundation, Best Buy and Toshiba for Roseland Park Elementary and Deuce McAllister’s Catch 22 Foundation for Nicholson Elementary.

— Accepted grants for robotics for $10,000, Roseland Park for $2,500 from the Bell South Foundation and $2,500 from Best Buy also for Roseland Park.

— Approved installation of playground equipment at Early Head Start.

The school board meets again at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16 in the board room.