Board votes to repair gym, despite lack of fundingPublished 12:05am Friday, September 14, 2012
NATCHEZ — A recommendation to repair the gym floor at Morgantown Middle School Thursday brought forth bigger questions regarding the school district’s ability to complete several reorganization projects within the expected time frame.
The recommendation to award a $136,844 contract to an Alabama-based company was brought before the Natchez-Adams School District Board of Trustees during its Thursday meeting.
The bid advertised by the school district was to replace the current carpeted floor at the Morgantown gym with a wood floor to be used for all athletic events at the middle school.
When several board members asked business manager Margaret Parson where the funding for the repairs would come from, no immediate answer could be found.
“I don’t know,” Parson said in response to the board members’ questions. “I have figures to show where your money is right now.”
After a lengthy discussion between board members and Parson regarding which funds the money might be transferred from and to in order to fund the project, the board briefly considered tabling the motion until a definite source could be identified.
“(The budget) isn’t going to get looser if we wait another month,” board member David Troutman said. “There may be some funding sources that we don’t know about, but I think the board made a commitment to move ahead, and I don’t see any purpose of moving back.”
Earlier this year, the board voted to reorganize the schools in the district resulting in three residentially zoned schools for kindergarten through fifth grades at West, Frazier and McLaurin elementary schools and a middle school at Morgantown Middle School for the sixth through eighth grades.
Troutman said the board also committed to the expenses related to the reorganization with the vote in July.
“Yes we made a commitment, but when Dr. (Frederick) Hill signs the check that they have to sign, there has to money in the bank to cover that check,” board president Wayne Barnett said. “Yes we can spend it, but what if we spend it all now and get to that time when we can’t make payroll.
“I’m concerned about that.”
The reorganization also committed to renovate Robert Lewis Middle School to serve as a magnet program focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics for grades kindergarten through fifth or sixth through 12th for the 2013-2014 school year.
“I don’t want to go back on our commitments, but I don’t want our checks to bounce either,” Barnett said. “Lets set our priorities and our timelines to what we need to do.”
Ultimately the board voted to award the gym floor bid with a 3-2 vote.
Board members Troutman, Dr. Benny Wright and attorney Timothy Blalock voted in favor of awarding the bid.
Board members Barnett and Thelma Newsome voted against awarding the bid.
“We’re going to have to take a careful look and examine our budget closely,” Superintendent Frederick Hill said after the meeting. “Robert Lewis is just as big of a commitment as the gym floor at Morgantown.
“A commitment was made for both, so we have to get them done.”
In other news:
- Hill presented the board with four options for making up the three instructional days district schools missed because of Tropical Storm Isaac.
The first option, which Hill recommended, was to convert Jan. 3 from a professional development day to a regular school day — moving the development day to Jan. 2, — using April 1, which was previously reserved as a weather day, as a regular school day and adding one day to the end of the school year.
After several board members asked if the recommendation should be tabled a month to give Hill time to discuss all potential options with each school principal, Barnett said the sooner the make-up days were passed the better.
“Bottom line, you can’t please everybody,” Barnett said. “The sooner we make plans (we can) get it out there to the 4,000 students and parents concerned.”
Ultimately, the board voted to approve the first option with the ability for the dates to be changed at the next meeting after further discussion from school principals.