By Lana Noonan – Special to Slabbed
The first meeting of the Committee to Study the Consolidation of the Two School Districts in Hancock County was held Tuesday in the Bay St. Louis City Council Chambers.
Ron Thorp, Co-Chairman of the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government put together a very well thought out and structured cost study program to provide information for the public with regard to what the taxpayers in Hancock County are spending to have two School Districts.
Each member received a packet of the subject areas to be investigated and their particular topic to gather facts on and report back next month. The subject areas to be studied are: Legal expenses, Transportation, Alternative School, Travel/Special Student Expense, Purchasing, Consultants, Administration/ Debt Consolidation, School Board Consolidation, Insurance, Maintenance, State Fees, Dues and Organizations.
Some early figures were obtained by the committee members. For instance the current Maintenance Budgets for the two Districts are:
Hancock School District Current Maintenance Budget–$3,969,883.20, which includes $820,000 insurance, with custodial services, grass cutting and lawn services out sourced to private contractors. These expenses are being incurred for a student body of 4,552 students and 7 campuses.
Bay St. Louis-Waveland School District Maintenance Budget— $2,766,136.83, which includes facility employees ( no number given), janitorial employees (no number given), supplies, equipment, and repairs for 1,865 students and 4 campuses. Bay-Waveland’s insurance cost approximately $800,000 two years ago, and was not included as part of the Maintenance Budget.
This committee meeting broke the ice as the first bits of information were shared with the public in attendance, but much work remains before the informational phase completes.
The topic of the newly appointed Superintendent of Education for the Bay-Waveland District, Vikki Landry, came up in general conversation. She was selected by the Bay-Waveland Board from a national search which garnered 33 applicants, 3 of which were local within the District. Ms. Landry has served as the District’s Federal Programs Director for 11 years and Assistant Superintendent for the past two years. It is a unique, and first time situation in the Bay-Waveland District as Ms. Landry and her brother, John McCraw, will serve together as Superintendent and Business Manager, the School District’s Chief Financial Officer.
The Sea Coast Echo and Sun Herald were in attendance Tuesday, and both indicated that they had tried to contact Ms. Landry since Tuesday morning for a comment, but she had not yet returned their inquiries. The District Business Office is not giving out her new salary information. The press was being told that her contract is being prepared by the School Board Attorney, Ronnie Artigues.
The next meeting of the Committee will be Wednesday, February 15, at 3:30, at the Bay St. Louis City Council Chambers. The public is welcomed to attend.