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Natchez-Adams School District talks budget, cash flow problems

NATCHEZ — If the first step in solving a problem is admitting you have one, the Natchez-Adams School District board of trustees is on the way to solving its cash flow problems.

Superintendent Frederick Hill presented the board with an operating budget development plan in order to begin discussing the district’s cash flow problem before developing the 2013-2014 budget.

The key solution to eliminating the district’s problems, Hill said, starts with changing the way of thinking when it comes to the budgeting process.

“We were kind of doing things backward where we would hire these people, buy these programs and then find the money to do it all,” Hill said. “What we need to be doing is looking at the available funds we have, subtract the amount of money we want to save for the fund balance and that will give us the money we have available to use.

“The bottom line is we need to be operating within our budget.”

The fund balance is a percentage of money set aside for emergency projects that happen throughout the fiscal year.

“We know in the near future that we’re going to need a new roof on a building somewhere,” Hill said. “So we need to free up as much local dollars as we can to make those investments over the years so we’re prepared.”

Part of the development plan included designating and approving days to conduct financial and budgeting workshops that would include all board members and Business Manager Margaret Parson.

“There’s some homework to be done by everyone here at Braden before we even get started,” Hill said. “But the goal is to look at the things that are working and enhance those and get rid of the things that are not working.”

Board member Thelma Newsome commended Hill for preparing the document that will hopefully put the district on the right financial track.

“This is something that has been very much needed,” Newsome said. “This outline will get us through exactly what we need to be doing and give us a much better understanding of what’s going on within the district financially.”

The board voted to approve the budget development plan with the understanding that dates for the financial and budgeting workshops could change as needed.

In other news from the meeting:

•Sixty Morgantown Middle School students will be selected for a tutorial program that will offer four-hour sessions on Saturdays.

The board voted to enter into a contract with Greene Education Services of Ridgeland to help tutor students in mathematics using Mathnasium, a supplemental learning franchise.

Multiple board members questioned the likelihood that students would show up to school on a Saturday.

“We’re planning on things happening that we aren’t positive are going to happen,” said attorney Tim Blalock. “How do we get these kids here on a Saturday?”

Morgantown principal Roberta Phipps said the struggle with getting students to show up to any tutorial programs — after school, during school or on the weekend — are no different.

“That’s a challenge for every program, and it’s just a matter of encouraging as many parents and students as we can,” Phipps said. “There will be rewards to entice them or encourage them to attend, and we’re going to do all we can to get them there and keep them there.

“I know it’s going to be a challenge, but I’m up for the challenge.”

Newsome agreed with other board members that the $45,000 price tag for the 10 tutoring sessions was costly, but also expressed the need of some kind of tutoring session for the students in the district.

“We keep saying we want to get off the bottom, but if we don’t try and see if it works we won’t know,” Newsome said. “These are the kinds of things that Dr. Hill asked us to start looking at, and if the Natchez-Adams School District can add to the data, I think it’s worth a shot.”

The board voted to approve the contract with the condition that frequent updates of data were provided to the board.