PRC school board eyes budget

Published 2:00 am Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The school board for the Pearl River County School Distrit, which governs the Pearl River Central schools here and at McNeill, moved around a few funds Monday night in the wake of a tight budget and passed a routine supplemental pay measure for a group of teachers who do extra work, which prompted a no vote from one board member.

Asked after the meeting if they were still taking applications to fill a vacant Beat 2 board seat following resignation by board member Byron Stockstill on Aug. 12, board members said they were.

The board will make the appointment to fill Stockstill’s unexspired term since a regularly scheduled election is months away. Stockstill said he resigned because his employment was taking him away from home for long periods of time.

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By law the school board can discuss the appointment in executive session, since it would be a personnel matter, but the vote on the appointment is required to be taken in open session. They gave no indication of when the vote might come.

The school board zipped through a 20-item agenda in 16 minutes and only paused on those items that covered supplemental pay for what are called “grade chair” teachers at the Lower and Upper elementary schools. The pay involved 17 teachers.

In what appeared to be a very complicated procedure, the board — on a motion by board member Sherwin Taylor to amend the original motion approving personnel matters — removed the two items from the original motion, then adopted the original motion, approving all other personnel matters.

The board then returned to consideration of supplemental pay.

The supplemental pay items were taken one at a time and each passed on a 3-1 vote. Board members Jeff Jones, Margie Creel and Michelle Boyd voted in favor of the pay supplements and Taylor voted no.

Taylor gave a short explanation of why he voted no: “I think we should hold on to the money, even though we might have already budgeted it.” When the second pay supplement passed, he added, “I vote no for the same reason as before. I just keep seeing our (cash) reserves shrink.”

Responding to Taylor’s remarks Supt. Dennis E. Penton said, “Let me tell the board what this encompasses. The chair people go above and beyond the call of duty. . .They organize, meet with administrators, act as liaisons, do large amounts of paper work and many other tasks. So we pay them a supplement each year for that added responsibility. They work far more than what they are compensated for.”

He also said the money for the pay supplements is already budgeted and that pay supplements for the high school and junior high school “grade chair” teachers had already been approved.

In other budget related matters that reflect a tight budget, the board approved amending the 2009-’10 district maintenance budget, cutting expenditures in the amount of $306,363.32 because of the five percent cut in state revenue.

The board also moved to save six jobs by amending the budget to have the positions included in the Title I, Part A, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or federal stimulus money.

Penton also recognized business manager Megan St. Clair and the business administration office with a certificate of excellence from the state auditor’s office, presented to St. Clair and her assistants for maintaining an impeccable set of books and financial statements for the school budget and for presentation to state auditors.

The State Auditor’s office presents the certificates of achievement to school boards and their business administrators who maintain high standards of financial reporting. The certificate said state auditors found no exceptions or material deficiencies in Pearl River Central’s audit ending June 30, 2008.

Said Penton, “This is a testament to our business office that they have done an outstanding job in maintaining our financial records.”

In other matters, the board:

— Approved moving $3 million reserved for capital improvements to the unreserved fund balance.

— Approved making a short-term loan from the district maintenance account shortfall notes retirement to make debt payment until funds are received from the tax assessor.

— Approved a quote from Saf-T-Net, Inc., for the purchase of the AlertNow Emergency Notification system for $8,073.30.

— Approved five resignations: Michelle Achee, Amanda Mooney, Clara Thornton, Theresa Waltz and Linda Thaxton.

— Approved hiring Jessica Ledet, Tiffany Davis, Amanda Mooney part-time, and Donald Adams.

— Approved supplemental pay for gifted contact person Kathy Grantham.

— Approved the donation of $1,500 to the Upper Elementary Principal’s Fund from the PRC Parent Volunteers Booster Club for installing water fountains.

— Approved 2 private contracts for transportation of exceptional children.

— Approved out-of-state travel for the high school and middle school show choir to travel to Opelika, Ala., for competition on Feb. 12 and 13.

— Set the regular monthly meetings for Nov. 2 and Dec. 8.

— Went into executive session to discuss student matters.

— After the executive session discussed the fund balance report and budget report for September 2009.