School board and city come to agreement

Published 3:44 pm Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Members of the Picayune Separate Municipal school board approved a motion to continue to lease 16th section land to the city of Picayune, and discussed an upcoming agreement concerning that lease.
The lease is for 25 years, with the ability to reappraise the contract every eight years to make changes to the rate, said District Finance Director Lisa Penton.
Each lease involves land where city parks are located, including the 15.5 acres at Snyder Park on Beech Street and 8.91 acres at Ben Taylor Park on Palestine Road. Penton said the previous agreement between the city and school district involved the city mowing grass on the two pieces of property, but Penton said that agreement was not enough. Assistant Superintendent Brent Harrell said it is already the lease holder’s obligation to care for the property.
A meeting between district representatives and city representatives formed a new deal that involved adding two more crossing guards at two schools, Penton said. Currently, the city, through the Picayune Police Department, provides one crossing guard on Goodyear Boulevard. Penton said the new deal will add a crossing guard for West Side Elementary and another for South Side Elementary.
The city will pay the school district for the 16th section lease, while the school district will pay the city for the crossing guards and upkeep of the 16th section property, Penton said. The board approved the lease, but Penton said the agreement about the crossing guards will be presented to the board at a future meeting. Harrell said the contract concerning the crossing guards has not been drawn up yet.
The board also approved a second reading of the district’s electricity conservation policy. The policy is a way for the district to reduce the expense of electricity, which Harrell said is already showing savings. In the revised version, a couple of changes were made, including turning off computer labs at the end of the day and how teachers handle small refrigerators in their classrooms. The first draft of the policy stated small refrigerators would not be allowed in the classrooms. The updated version states refrigerators in the classrooms are required to be energy star rated, no more then 3.6 cubic feet, unplugged during holidays and taken home during summer break. Other small appliances such as microwaves and coffee pots will still not be allowed, the policy states.
Board member Jimmy Hancock suggested that since the policy requires air conditioners to be turned off at the end of the day, they not be turned back on all at once, instead one at a time. Board member Ray Scott agreed, saying that if all of the units are turned on at the same time it will set the electricity demand for that day at a higher rate. Harrell said he can request school custodians to stagger turning on air conditioning units prior to teachers arriving at school.
Penton told the board that two monitoring audits were recently completed and came out well. Only five findings were reported, three were reporting errors that can be fixed easily and two involved contracts that were missing American Recovery and Reinvestment Act language, which can also be fixed.
“Our staff did an excellent job,” Penton said.
The board went into executive session to discuss student discipline matters. Harrell said the matters had to do with student discipline hearings, but due to privacy policies concerning students he could not elaborate further.
The next board meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11.

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