NASD school board passes 2015-16 budget

Published 12:02 am Friday, July 10, 2015

NATCHEZ — With little fanfare, the Natchez-Adams School District school board approved the district’s 2015-16 budget.

The budget for the year ending June 30, 2016, anticipates revenues of $40,001,443 and expenditures of $42,678.356.

That means the district is anticipating a deficit of $2,676,356, requiring the district to dip into its fund balance.

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The district’s fund balance on July 1 of this year was $28,599,122. It is anticipated that fund balance on June 30, 2016, will be $26,209,312.

Frederick Hill, superintendent, said the budget includes a 4 percent pay increase for custodial, child nutrition, security, school-based clerical staff and teacher’s assistance.

“The budget also includes improvements to the high school auditorium, increases for public relations and increases for technology,” Hill said.

In other business, the school board:

4 Heard that as of July 1, when the second re-test was offered to third graders who still needed to pass the Mississippi Third Grade Reading Assessment, 267 third graders — or 94.68 percent of third graders in the district — passed the test and are headed to the fourth grade.

Frasier Elementary had 93.69 percent of its third graders pass the reading test; 94.4 percent of McLaurin Elementary third graders passed; and 96.20 percent of West Elementary third graders passed the test.

The reading of those results earned an ovation from school board members.

4 Approved offering a Mississippi Occupational Diploma to special needs students.

Dr. Ruby W. As-Sabor, director of special services, said the occupational diploma would seek to prepare special needs students for work and “keep our students in school. It should help curtail the dropout rate.

“It will help prepare special needs students for life. It will get them ready to go out looking for jobs and help prepare them to be trained in vocational skills,” she said.

School Board President Tim Blalock asked how the success of the offering of the new diploma would be measured.

As-Sabor said currently 51 students in grades nine through 12 are eligible to earn such a diploma if they meet the requirements. She said she thinks the program would be a success if 75 percent of them earned the occupational diploma.

Hill said the state puts a cap on the number of students who can earn the occupational diploma.

“As far as the board is concerned, if it’s working or not, is if our graduation rate is going up,” he said.

“This is not a play diploma,” As-Sabor said. “They have to work as hard for this program as for a regular diploma.”

– Approved offering a Jobs for Mississippi Grads course at Morgantown Middle School and Natchez High School. Hill said the course would help increase the district’s graduation rate by exposing students to jobs and skills needed beyond high school.

– Heard from Hill that the school district received full accreditation from AdvancED, which he said is a regional school accreditation service.

“I can proudly say for every audit we’ve had in the last three years, we are fully compliant or fully accredited by all,” he said.

Officials from AdvancED visited in 2013, Hill said, “and they gave us a list of items we need to improve upon. They visited us a month age and we were fully accredited as an AdvancED institution.”

– Heard from Hill that he plans to hold two “community roundtables,” one at 10 a.m. on July 23 and another at 10 a.m. on July 30, in an effort to get input from the community on the operation of the school district.

“There’s so much going on within our community, this provides another way for the community to play a part in improving the school district. It’s just one more outlet for the community to be heard,” Hill said.

Blalock asked if Hill was asking school board members to attend the meeting. Hill said any two school board members could be present at the meeting, but no more than that. If more than two of the board members attend, the district would have to schedule the roundtables as a special meeting and follow the guidelines for posting such a meeting.

Steven Richardson, the district’s public relations coordinator, said the meetings are private and by invitation. He also said Hill is asking that they be “off the record.”