I’ve been kicking this whole Bay-Waveland School District becoming the City of Bay St Louis’ capital projects fund around for a few days and I’m coming to a few inescapable conclusions that include the term malfeasance. Since Slabbed began covering local Hancock County government the only constant is the rate at which schemes are hatched by Bay St Louis Mayor Les Fillingame, all of which costs money, a commodity everyone agrees is in short supply at the City of Bay St Louis. This does not stop the City Council from regularly being derelict in its statutorily charged duty to oversee the municipal purse, which in turn lends an Alice in Wonderland type quality to the entire sad affair.
I say this because we are now finding out the Bay-Waveland School District is so flush with money that it has extra to give the City for sidewalks, and not the ones promised to Councilman Reed and Compretta’s Districts along Old Spanish Trail earlier this year. Earlier this year though, Bay-Waveland Schools Superintendent Rebecca Ladner was sho’ nuff’ poor mouthin’ levels of education funding here in Mississippi and that is where I begin:
Being as how we are equal opportunity here at Slabbed we gotta give good ol’ Sid Salter the credit for inspiring this post:
Democrat’s rewrite of MAEP history short on fact ~ Sid Salter
I thought Sid’s column was superficial as there is plenty of blame to be spread around to both political parties for Mississippi’s well documented deficiencies in public education and that is where I think of history and not the partisan political variety. Once upon a time in Mississippi, 16th section tracts were routinely used as a source of political patronage at the expense of the school age kids and local levels of funding were at the whim of the Board of Supervisors or City Council, not the school board. These abuses were cured in the 1980’s under Governor William Winter and the Education Reform Act. But here in the Bay we’ve now come full circle.
It is at this point I feel compelled to point out the financial stewardship of the Bay-Waveland School Board has been abysmal. Since Slabbed burst onto the local scene in 2012 covering the Bay Tech Building Swindle, we’ve seen the school district waste hundreds of thousands of dollars on a football field, parking lots and stands because the decision was made to skip soil sampling before ground was broke. But Bay Tech is what makes my point.
You see folks, back in 2012/2013 when Slabbed broke that story there was one event that I left off the timelines I prepared, an event which happened in March, 2012. This event in my mind explained the whole scheme and that would be the day when Wells Fargo sent their own appraiser to examine the proposed short sale of the building (vital background here.) In that appraisal report, the Wells Fargo appraiser included some quotes from Bay St Louis City Attorney Don Rafferty which indicated Mayor Fillingame knew about the proposed transaction. To the extent the Mayor appoints three of the five school board members this is not a surprise by any means.
My point in rehashing the ancient history is once again Mayor Fillingame has his eyes on more School District money, the proposed expenditure of which will not raise test scores one point but it will spread some money around to the Mayor’s friends.
There are reasons we don’t get a bang for our education tax dollar that go way beyond two party politics. Here in the Bay anyone so interested has a front row seat into the why.