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School board questions travel

NATCHEZ — School board members questioned at their meeting Thursday how much the Natchez-Adams School District spends on travel.

“I think we travel too much and spend too much on traveling,” Board Chairman Harold Wayne Barnett said.

The board was asked at Thursday’s meeting to approve travel requests for 11 employees from late March through May costing $8,448.47.

Barnett said the board is generally required to approve travel requests outside of the region and costing more than a certain amount, so more traveling costs are incurred that the board never hears about.

Board member Benny Wright said $370,000 was budgeted this year on travel and $169,000 for textbooks, and that the district could consider prioritizing its expenses.

Superintendent Anthony Morris said the textbook budget was cut in half to fulfill the board’s request for additional budget cuts.

Barnett said he is not opposed to travel, but has noticed the board often funds multiple travel requests each year for the same employees.

“If traveling is good, let’s share the wealth,” he said.

Board member Thelma Newsome said she would like to know how many trips each individual has been on and how much was spent.

Morris said the board receives those reports annually.

Barnett said he thought the district should rethink they way it budgets traveling.

The board voted 4-1 to approve the 11 travel requests presented at Thursday’s meeting.

Wright, Newsome, Dale Steckler and David Troutman voted in favor of the motion to approve the requests, and Barnett voted against it.

The travel requests averaged $768 each and were mostly to be funded with federal monies.

Newsome made a motion that the board members attend several work sessions with Business Manager Margaret Parson throughout the budgeting process. Newsome’s motion passed unanimously.

In other news from Thursday’s meeting:

4 Morgantown Elementary School Principal Fred Marsalis will retire at the end of the school year.

The board unanimously approved Marsalis’ notice of retirement.

Marsalis stated his plans to retire in a letter to Morris included in the meeting agenda.

“Whereas I have had a wonderful experience here the past few years, there are other things that I must do at this stage in my life,” Marsalis said in the letter.

Marsalis, an Alcorn State University graduate, has served as principal of Morgantown for seven years and has 43 years of experience in education.

Marsalis wrote on an exit interview from that more support should be given to people “at the decision-making end,” and that, “Together we all win.”

• The board voted against approving plans to demolish the long white building at the former Washington School.

Board Attorney Bruce Kuehnle said approving the demolition would be premature since the Mississippi Department of Archives and History has not officially approved the demolition.

Barnett suggested the district advertise for demolition bids by the board’s next meeting in order to get a price lower than the lowest quote, which was $15,000.

• The following teachers received Teacher of the Year awards, which were announced before the meeting in the Braden assembly room:

• West Primary — Annie Barnes.

• Frazier Primary — Jennifer Haile

• McLaurin Elementary — Katie Wesley

• Morgantown Elementary — Shanetra Jones

• Robert Lewis Middle School — Linda Sheribia

• Natchez High School — Ambreya Noble

• Administrator of the Year was awarded to McLaurin Elementary Principal Alice Morrison.

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