By Carolyn Roy
The snow caused lots of problems for school staffs Supt. Dale Skinner said at the school board meeting Thursday. Although the schools were closed Tuesday and Wednesday, problems arose at Fairview Alpha with water leaks that were not noticed until early Thursday morning around 2 a.m. The school was closed for the day. The electricity was off Thursday at the Goldonna school and the principal and staff spent the morning calling parents to pickup their children. At the meeting Thursday, Skinner said he was not sure if Provencal would be open Friday because of an empty water tank. “I wish people understood…we don’t have a choice sometimes,” he said of the unexpected school closings. Durham Transportation Manager Jason Edwards said there were several problems with busses not running. Durham has sent drivers to Florida to drive back five buses that will give his fleet two extras when problems arise.
A potential problem that will be addressed at the February meeting is the increase in benefits for retirees and employees mandated by the State. Supervisor of Finance Richard Foshee said the retirement benefits costs will increase .4 percent and employee benefit costs will increase .1 percent for the 2019-20 fiscal year. He will have estimates of how much that will cost the school board at the February meeting. An interesting sidebar to the board’s sell of timber in the Gorum area is that drone reconnaissance indicates there is an eagle’s nest on the property.
Timber harvest is prohibited within 660 feet of the nest. Foshee said the school board could possibly have to refund money to Weyerhaeuser. He is hopeful that will not be more than $5,000. Board president Ralph Wilson mentioned the possibility of reorganizing grade levels since the school system can return to unitary status. That discussion will take place at the February meeting. Board member Emile Metoyer requested an agenda item to discuss an independent audit. Board member Russ Danzy said an audit was underway and Skinner said auditors had visited the school board office for four days and examined every department. A Mississippi firm is conducting the audit. Foshee gave an overview of the audit of school activity funds. He said there were no “glaring” issues but were several common mistakes such as clerical errors that caused account deficits; lack of documentation for athletic ticket sales; and lack of controls on bank statement reconciliations. S
kinner said he would discuss the recommendations for addressing those issues with principals at their meeting next week. On a motion of board member Tommy Melder, the board went into executive session to discuss and review a contract extension and compensation for Skinner. Harry Graham, Emile Metoyer and Stephen Harris voted against the motion that passed. The board is expected to vote on the contract at the February meeting.