Other Voices | Lana Noonan: Its a new game in town for Bay-Waveland School District

If the rest of the meetings of the Bay St. Louis-Waveland Board of Trustees are anything like the first one of this calendar year, which took place Monday night, you can safely say “There’s a new game in town!” And newly elected Trustee, Mark Kidd, representing Waveland, threw the first pitch.

Transparency, accountability, and communication are what he stated he is interested in moving forward, and move he did!!

On a motion by Kidd and seconded by the other Waveland representative, Mike Bell, Bay St. Louis representative, Casey Favre was elected Board President.

On reliable source, this was not the plan of some other Board members going into the meeting!!

The Superintendent then gave a report on the latest Test Scores with emphasis on the ACT test results. This ended up being an almost 15 minute monologue that excluded any real data on how the students actually performed with the exception of the Superintendent saying that she “thought” they came in somewhere around 4th Coast wide out of the 16 school districts tested . Trustee Kidd corrected that statement to reveal they came in 4th from the bottom or 13th with an average ACT score of 17.8. Does the Superintendent really expect the public to believe she didn’t have those results?

A review of the PARCC test results also showed the district having some serious issues in the Middle School, which obviously continues into the High School.

I reminded the Board and all present at the meeting that the Sun Herald published the results that were provided by the Miss. State Dept. of Education last month. Actually, those tests results should have been part of the Board Book provided to each Trustee prior to the meetings, but it wasn’t.

While the Board has many pressing issues, there are none that rise to the importance of how the students are performing in the classrooms and if they are prepared for college or the workforce.

Superintendent’s Ladner’s closing remarks on the test scores was, and I quote her, “It boils down to the teacher in front of the classroom.”

I respectfully disagree. While that is important, of course, everyone has a role to play, and that has to include the Administration and Board.

The School District’s Insurance provider, Stewart, Sneed, and Hewes had representatives present since the current coverage will expire January 31.
After a heated discussion between the representatives and the Board, a motion was passed to have the Board attorney draw up an advertisement to ask for bids from other agencies in an effort to bring the cost down from the current which is over $800,000.00 annually. The representative from Stewart, Sneed, and Hewes met with a little more force from the Board this year as opposed to last year when he stood down former Trustee Mike Benvenutti who then wanted to seek other quotes and was told by the insurance representative that they could not change their agent of record. Kidd and Bell pushed back this year, and other quotes are going to be coming in for review. Board attorney, Artigues upheld the legality of the decision by the Board to change the agent of record if necessary to secure a savings for the taxpayers.

Under Board input, Kidd delivered to the Superintendent and Business Manager a litany of financial information he wants by the February meeting including the title, job description, and pay scale of every employee and a detailed summary of travel expenses by employees going back 5 years.

The Superintendent assured him she has the right, by Board Policy, to pre-approve travel for employees up to $1,000 per request.

A review of the Board’s Policies under Fiscal Management and Reimbursements does give the Superintendent authority to pre-approve travel for employees, but does not contain the $1.000 figure. This seems awfully high and should be addressed by the Board as soon as possible and definitely no later than budget time which will be underway in April and May.

After recessing at 7:30 for an Executive Session that the Board Attorney said would take 5 minutes, the evening ended around 8:45.

This will be an interesting Board to follow going forward, and the Alliance for Good Government hopes to see the effort toward Excellence in Education, Integrity in Spending and Openness in Governing continue.

It’s the best approach for the taxpayers and can be an opportunity for growth for the Administration if Dr. Ladner chooses to co-operate.

9 thoughts on “Other Voices | Lana Noonan: Its a new game in town for Bay-Waveland School District”

  1. Board Members Kidd and Bell think Agent of Record Change is the answer? That is insider politics. This same the same agency that is part of the BSL Fiasco and their Representative has not shown up to one meeting to explain. This is another secret hand shake and wink of the eye.

    The current agent is a life long resident of BSL and is qualified. He attends meetings and is accountable to the Board. The Board needs to shop Insurance not necessarily Premiums.

    Them saying if it is AOR’ed to them they will reduce the premium $35K is ludicrous! They would have to Rebate their Commission back to the Policy Holder to get that reduction, which is Illegal in Insurance.

    Stewart Sneed and Hewe’s reputation is impeccable. They Insure School Districts and Cities up and down the Coast and all over Mississippi.

    Keep the Politics out of Professional Services!

  2. I spoke to both Bell and Kidd after the meeting, and their position is they don’t care who the agent of record us, they are seeking a savings for the taxpayers.
    If Stewart, Sneed, and Hewes can make that happen, great.
    I was at the meeting last year when Benvenutti was told by the agent that the Board could not change their agent of record. In the past 12 months I have been told that is not so.
    While I am no expert on insurance by any stretch of the imagination, I do know this:
    The rates have us all by the throat right now and I believe it is well worth the effort to save every penny we can.
    I think it will be interesting and and an education for all of us to see what brokers respond to the ad for bids and what they have to say. We may find out we are getting a great deal right now, and we may find otherwise– but we do need to know. It’s the public’s money.

  3. Don’t shop a premium shop Insurance Coverage. People who shop premiums typically have problems with claims. AOR’ing a contract to another broker is only recommended if there is a relationship problem. It is not possible to give them the account and magically it goes down unless rebating is involved. Don’t believe the School would benefit from that as it is illegal.

    Those who buy insurance like their carrier those who purchase a premium hate their carrier! Hurricane Katrina sound familiar! Also, how about the Agents E&O Coverage and experience with this type insurance. SSH has over $57 million in E&O coverage. I know this because they insure me and I asked. No one likes to admit it but mistakes, gaps, lapses in coverage etc….can happen. Look at Bay Saint Louis’s situation. That could have easily been an agent error, and to this point we do not if was or not, and when they do make an error they need to be able to financially remedy that problem. Happens all the time.

  4. I frequently read but never comment on Slabbed. However, I have to disagree with TTTT’s post. I have numerous insurance policies. Many, not all, are with one company but I receive excellent service from all of them. If TTTT chooses to overpay on their personal premium that is up to him/her. Rates do vary and it is important to check rates every couple of years. Occasionally I will check rates and find much lower premiums. When I call my agent to let them know I am considering cancelling I am told “we can offer you that same rate”. Had I not checked they surely would not have offered. To say that insurance rates are not important or that the only thing that matters is the “relationship” is ridiculous. I am sure when TTTT buys a home or car they don’t ask the price they just choose based on the feeling they get from the salesperson. Thank you Ms. Noonan.

  5. Your agent should shop it it each year. In this case the competitor said give me your policy I dont have a better quote. The only way he can reduce it is to cut his commission and rebate it back which is illegal. Shopping anything is always good policy but that is what your agent should do. Obviously they did because the competitor did not have a better quote he just tried to use insider connections on a hope and a promise.

  6. Willis,
    Buying merchandise and hiring professional services do not go in the same sentence. That is your and my difference. You see insurance as retail and I see it as a professional service. Unlike home owners and auto insurance Municipal Insurance is very complex with many exposures. Gaps in insurance and underfunded carriers can get you in trouble quickly with no answer as well as Agency mistakes which is covered by E&O Insurance. That goes to support my thoughts on buying a Premium or Buying Insurance. Nuff said by me.

  7. Paying attention,

    If you live in a world where you believe there to be only one qualified agent of record, one qualified CPA, one person qualified for mayor, etc. etc. then I get your point. The reality is that municipal insurance may be complex but there is more than one qualified provider. Any prudent person should compare services AND prices. I expect the same from the government, state or federal, when they are spending tax payer money.

  8. I believe we are agreeing. The Agency wanting Agent of Record did not have a Quote or Coverage to offer. Just his connections to the Board Members. Devil in the Details. I believe competitive bidding is essential in the Public Sector as long as it is bidding and giving.

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