Picayune school board discusses fund balance and copiers


Board members (L-R) Jake Smith, Frank Feeley, Frank Ford, Lori Blackmer

At last night’s meeting of the Picayune School Board of Trustees, the board heard good news on the school district’s current financial situation. District Finance Director Lisa Persick reported that the board has a maintenance fund balance of $5,656,190.00. The Mississippi Department of Education and the state auditor have recommended that districts hold in reserve at least 7.5% of their annual budgets to tide them over in cases of emergency.

Board member Frank Feeley asked if the balance reported by Persick included the recent tax payment received from Shale Support Services? Persick said that the district had not received that money. Feeley then asked if there was any reason for the holdup of the district receiving the funds and Persick said she would have check into the status of the funds.

Persick told the board that using the current budget number of $26,056,257.00 and dividing it by the fund balance of $5,656,190.00, shows that the board is at 21.7%, which is well above the required 7.5%.

In reviewing the claims docket, board Vice-Chairperson Dr. Lori Blackmer asked for more information on three expenditures.

Blackmer asked “How often does the district replace the band’s color guard uniforms?”

Assistant Superintendent Brent Harrell explained “they get new uniforms every three years.”

Blackmer also asked about the frequency of football uniforms and Walt Esslinger, Support Services Director and Athletic Director, explained that due to wear and tear, on average, a new set of uniforms is purchased annually for the varsity. Esslinger explained that the school system gets good use out of their uniforms by passing down the uniforms into the lower grades programs for game jerseys and practice jerseys as needed.

Another item that was brought up by Blackmer was contract overage charges of several hundred dollars for copier usage.

Persick explained, “The contracts are based on a maintenance agreement for a certain number of copies and when that number is exceeded, there is an agreed upon rate charged per copy. As a copier gets older, that copy per page (cost) gets higher. Once the number of copies is reached, they are going to be paying a cost per page for the rest of the year.”

Persick added that each school has a number in their budget to cover the overage specified in their maintenance agreements. She said she would have to look at each copier to see.”

Board member Frank Feeley questioned the current practice of each school having the freedom of being able to negotiate their own contract with different suppliers instead of the district negotiating with one supplier. Feeley stated, “That’s not good business. That ought to be something that goes out for bid. We spend thousands of dollars on this.”

Board President Frank Ford reiterated Feeley’s view saying, “I think we should go out and advertise collectively as a district and get better buying power.”

Persick said that the agreements are purchased from state contract and some vendors will sell below state contract. Feeley and Ford asked Persick to please look into the matter.

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