Hope everyone had a wonderful and blessed Christmas and will enjoy all the best in the New Year. And speaking of the New Year, it is going to be a busy one politically in Hancock County. Two of our cities, Bay St. Louis and Diamondhead will be holding municipal elections. The Hancock County Alliance for Good Govenment plans to be involved in both sponsoring forums, etc.
It is going to be interesting to see how the fiscal situation in our nation and state affects us locally from municipal governments to school districts.
Both of our school districts are implementing the new Common Core Curriculum, which is being done nation wide. Everyone has to follow the same rules, so we would encourage our educators to dig in their heels, and give it their best shot for the kids.
Our state leaders seem to be dedicated to supporting Charter Schools. We’ll never know how they would work in our state until we try them. One advantage is that if the Charter School does not produce, it gets shut down. Pity we can’t operate under that format with some of our public schools in our state.
We are still of the opinion that consolidation of school districts would also be beneficial primarily for the students. It has been suggested to our legislature since a study was done in 1993 to consolidate districts and take the money saved in eliminating duplication of administrative costs and put it in the classrooms. It just seems to fall on deaf ears, and our state leaders contilnue to wonder why we lag behind nationally in education year after year.
Hancock County would be a perfect situation for consolidation since we have only slightly over 6,000 students between the two districts. The taxpayers are now paying for two Superintendents, two Assistant Superintendents, two of everything administrative and operating two business offices. It’s like Noah’s Ark, but how long can the taxpayers keep it afloat in a county where the mill de-valued this year?The time has not only come, it has past. But it’s never too late.
This year would be a good time for our legislature to amend the Open Meetings Law, especially section (g) which permits public boards to deliberate real estate transactions in Executive Session. That’s out of the ear shot of the public (that’s us, the taxpayers that pay the bills.)
The Hancock County Alliance for Good Government is of the opinion that real estate transactions should be stricken from the list of topics that can be discussed and transacted in private session. After all, these public officials are not writing personal checks. They are using the public’s money, and shutting the public out of the room when deliberating. This means the folks who are actually providing the funds for the transaction can neither participate in or even listen to the discussion! This has to change, why?
Because the scandal at the Department of Marine Resources and the purchase of the Bay Tech Building by the Bay-Waveland School Board, as reported in the Sun-Herald, the Sea Coast Echo and right here on Slabbed are prime examples of why this kind of “business” needs to stop.
The Harbor in downtown Bay St. Louis is under construction with a change order already for soil testing. We predict there will be more “nerves” tested on this project than anything else. But it will make good material for questions for the election forums.
The Bay St. Louis City Council has an appointment to the School Board in February. We want to encourage them to appoint a citizen who has shown an interest in the educational system, and who can and will read a claim docket with no inhibitions about questioning expenditures. With the exception of Trustee Benvenutti, very little is questioned presently.
So, what’s happening with some of our either unfinished public buildings or finished ones that cannot be used due to problems with workmanship or lack of funds to operate them?
1. The Police Station in Waveland?
2. The County Health Department?
3. The finished, but unused Library in Diamondhead?
I was approached by a Diamondhead resident this week who was upset because the Board of Supervisors had approached the new city to take over the operation of the Library? What? I could be wrong, but I don’t think the Library was in the new city’s budget.
While we are sure it was fun spending all that FEMA money on new facilities, some thought should have been given by our officials as to what the public could afford to maintain on a decreased tax base.
And, who was doing the inspections locally on the buildings that are in limbo?
We’ll keep our ears to the ground on these and other matters, and will keep you informed as we continue to promote EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION, INTEGRITY IN SPENDING, AND OPENNESS IN GOVERNING in our community.
HANCOCK COUNTY ALLIANCE FOR GOOD GOVERNMENT
Lana Noonan- Chairman