VIDEO: School district recognizes student achievements, receives mostly-clean audit for FY2020

Published 3:22 pm Monday, November 22, 2021

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NATCHEZ — The Natchez Adams School District received a mostly clean audit report for the fiscal cycle ending June 30, 2020, which was presented to school board members by Scott Adams of Silas Simmons on Thursday.

Overall, the district’s total assets are just under $77 million, an increase of $36.5 million from the prior year, compared to $99 million in liability, which is an increase of about $31 million from the prior year.

The bulk of these increases has to do with the funding of the $34 million Natchez High School and Natchez Middle School renovation, which are funded in part by a 3-mil tax levy and trust certificates.

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The district had approximately $39.1 million in total revenue with approximately $40.1 million in expenditures, which would place them in the negative by approximately $975,000. Add another $35.8 million associated with bonds and notes for the school renovation and the district’s total fund balance is a positive $34.8 million for 2020.

The audit found no instances where the school district was out of compliance with state or federal laws concerning money management, Adams said, however, there were a few “old findings” associated with the prior fiscal year that were not completely cleaned up at the time of the report.

“Typically, if you have a finding in one year you will find it again in the next year,” he said. “It almost takes you a couple of years to remove it from the report.”

One finding resulted from missed payments on advances from loans which were made subsequently, Adams said.

“As of March 2021, one was paid off completely and the remaining advance was brought current. Assuming that it is paid off this year, that finding should be taken care of.”

Another finding deals with students being taught in another school district when their physical address is in Adams County. In that case, the school district would have to compensate the other school district.

“We simply were not able to find out what that amount was, but it sounds like that allocation has been brought current so I will look for that to be cleared next fiscal year,” Adams said.

Two other findings were a result of record-keeping where certain accounts were not reconciled in a timely manner, he said.

Pastor asked for donation of former school

In other matters during Thursday’s meeting of the Natchez Adams School District Board of Trustees, the board was asked to consider either donating or allowing a long-term lease of an old school property on U.S. 61 South.

They heard a proposal from Rev. Antione Eakins, Ph.D., to acquire the building at 819 U.S. 61 South, which he said was the former campus of Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

Eakins, who is the pastor of Thankful Missionary Baptist Church currently located at 306 Oak St. in Natchez, asked to use the property for the church as well as an array of community service projects.

“I recently organized the church here in Natchez and what we’re trying to do is acquire or occupy that building and property for use as our church and for community service projects,” he said. “We want to open up a daycare center and convert the building into the church sanctuary and classrooms for church members and youth. I had a chance to tour the building and it’s just as I thought. It is a beautiful building and even with all of the decay it still has great potential.”

Eakins said the church also plans to headquarter a community action agency in the building and provide services to the community such as a cosmetology school, truck driving school, after-school tutoring and mental health services.

He suggested either the school board donate the property to the non-profit or allow them to take out a long-term lease. Board members asked Eakins to send a full proposal for them to consider and took no further action.

Championship Row update

Eco Ride bus driver Greg West updated school board members on a volunteer effort to place decorative signs representing every school sports championship won in Adams County in a row of signage to be called “Championship Row.”

The signs represent both private and public schools, past and present, in every sport and would be placed by the Liberty Road ballpark and Adams County Safe Room, West said.

West said $1,500 donated by Natchez Adams School District helped purchase 30 of the 60 signs created so far. West said he and a committee of volunteers are still in the process of getting another 20 signs created for the project.

They previously wanted to have each sign placed on its own metal poles but could save money on the project by mounting the signs to the fence outside of Liberty Park instead, West said.

“In order to do that, we need to know who owns that fence and have their blessing,” he said.

Board members said they were unsure of who owns the fence and would have to check property records.

Special recognition

The board also heard a presentation from its combined middle school choirs and recognized two students from Natchez Early College.

The students, Jerome Timmons III and Samaria Spears, have been chosen to represent Copiah-Lincoln Community College as Mr. and Ms. Co-Lin for the 2021-2022 school year.

“Our students at NEC are dually enrolled, meaning they’re both high school students and college students, taking both high school and college classes simultaneously.” NEC principal Heather Jackson said. “They were voted by both elected by their high school and college peers to represent Co-Lin’s Natchez Campus … They are the first high-schoolers at the Natchez campus to represent Co-Lin in that manner. As their principal, I am so proud of them.”

Both students are on track to receive their Associate’s Degrees in May, Jackson said.