Picayune school board welcomes 5th member

Published 7:00 am Thursday, February 13, 2014

SWEARING IN: Dr. Lori Blackmer, right, is sworn in as the Picayune school board’s newest memberSchool board attorney Gerald Patch issues the oath of office. Blackmer fills the seat left vacant4 for a year when the Picayune City Council couldn’t reach agreement ona nominee to fill the post after former member Ray Scott’s term expired on March 1, 2013.  Photo by Will Sullivan

SWEARING IN: Dr. Lori Blackmer, right, is sworn in as the Picayune school board’s newest memberSchool board attorney Gerald Patch issues the oath of office. Blackmer fills the seat left vacant4 for a year when the Picayune City Council couldn’t reach agreement ona nominee to fill the post after former member Ray Scott’s term expired on March 1, 2013.
Photo by Will Sullivan

Dr. Lori Blackmer, a local optometrist, was sworn in Tuesday night as the Picayune school board’s newest, and fifth, member.

Blackmer fills the seat left vacant nearly a year ago when the five-year term of Ray Scott ended on March 1 and the Picayune City Council, as then constituted, was unable to reach agreement on either keeping Scott in the position or naming someone new. Two members of the city council were replaced in municipal elections this past summer.

The Picayune school board is made up of three members appointed by the Picayune City Council and two members elected from that portion of the Picayune Municipal Separate School District that lies outside the Picayune city limits. Blackmer’s term is only for the time remaining for the seat vacated by Scott, a little more than four years, in the normally five-year term of office.

Following Blackmer’s swearing in at the beginning of the meeting, the school board raced through a short agenda with little discussion.

However, a short stop was taken in a few places usually to explain to Blackmer, such as when the budget timeline was adopted, that certain items are routinely approved every year. Blackmer, and all school board members, are required to attend a few training sessions throughout the year. Blackmer probably will attend her first session, for new school board members, this spring.

The budget timeline adopted Tuesday starts with a budget workshop for administrators on March 18 and ends on Sept. 9 when the board approves the previous fiscal year’s final budget. In between, the board will advertise a public hearing and a notice of tax increase, hold a public hearing on the budget on June 10, adopt a budget on June 24, publish the budget in the newspaper on July 12, approve on Aug. 12 the ad valorem tax request sent to the city of Picayune and approve the debt service tax request sent to the county, and transmit the budget to the city, county and state Dept. of Education on Aug. 15. The notice of tax increase advertisement is required by state law even if there is no increase.

The school board also requested the district’s administration to send a letter of thanks to Sen. Philip Moran of Kiln. Moran, whose district takes in only the southern tip of Pearl River County, has invited the Picayune Maroon Tide football team, the state 5A championship team, to the State Capitol to be recognized by the state legislature.

Board member Frank Feeley, who initiated the request, also said that Moran, who represents District 46 comprised mostly of Hancock and Harrison counties, wrote the bill that will allow school boards to pay teachers twice a month if they wish. The Picayune district had traditionally paid teachers twice a month until a bill passed last year had required paying them only once a month. With the newest change in the law, the district is going back to paying twice a month.

The board also approved an updated agreement with the US. Department of Navy that emphasized that the two Junior ROTC instructors are district employees, not members of the Navy. The two instructors are retired from the Navy, which is the reason for the emphasis on district employment, explained assistant school superintendent Brent Harrell.

The board also approved a list of donations, mostly to the Picayune Memorial High School High Tide Productions for its trip to a national competition, from McDonald Funeral Home, Hedwig Cibula, Mississippi Theatre Assn., Caesar Country Store, Bond A/C & Refrigeration, New Palestine Baptist Church, Huey Stockstill, Huey Stockstill Jr. and Rock Stockstill and David and Page Stockstill. Aerojet Rocketdyne made a donation to the CHAOS robotics team.