Guest Post: Bay-Waveland School Board Budget Hearing – A New Ballgame

The Bay St. Louis-Waveland Budget hearing Monday night was a whole new ball game as compared to the last 15 years. Not only was the Administration called on to justify their spending, but the public was actually invited to speak and ask questions.

The School District Budget report distributed to the audience last night claims a per pupil spending $11,083.00 to educate each child in the Bay St. Louis-Waveland School District. While the Superintendent stated they are underfunded $700,000 by the State, it appears we are doing just fine without State Funding because $11,083.00 is more than it costs to educated a student in our local private schools.

But what are we spending this $11,083 on?

Locally Under Major District Maintenance Expenditures the Instructional Budget ($297, 931) came in way behind Insurance ($794,307), Utilities ($900,670), and Transportation ($834, 500). Bringing up the rear were School Nurses ($180,000) and Maintenance ($127,000). Remember folks, the more we continue to play with bricks and mortar the more our Maintenance Budget will be and the Administration seems to be addicted to Architects and Engineers.

Under Administrative Costs, of the 14 Coast School Districts listed, we are the second highest percentage wise. That has pretty much stayed the same since a survey the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government did on Coast School District Administrative Spending in 2010.

The Superintendent and Business Manager defended their Administrative spending with regards to the low enrollment 0f 1,924 by saying that no matter how small a district is, the State still requires the same number of administrators. Well, there is your best argument for one School District in Hancock County. Why should the taxpayers in a county of only 45,000 residents, a lot of whom are below poverty level, have to continue to support duplicate administrative costs for a little over 6,000 students combined? Continue reading “Guest Post: Bay-Waveland School Board Budget Hearing – A New Ballgame”

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? Continue reading “Other Voices | Lana Noonan: Its a new game in town for Bay-Waveland School District”

Sid meet local noisemakers Rebecca and Les

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. Continue reading “Sid meet local noisemakers Rebecca and Les”

City of Bay St Louis asks Bay Waveland School Board for Municipal capital projects funding

By Lana Noonan, Special to Slabbed New Media

What looked like a rather boring agenda for the May 11, 2015 Bay-Waveland School Board meeting turned out to be rather interesting. First up was Superintendent Ladner presenting awards to School District retirees and students who had excelled in academics and arts.

In the Superintendent’s report Ms. Ladner covered the Third Grade Reading Gate Test Scores that were just released on Friday, May 8. Out of some 160 3rd graders, 91% passed with an average score of 998. The lowest score that could be made to pass was 926, and the highest score that could have been achieved was 1200.

When the Business Manager took the podium to give the first update on the upcoming budget, he was interrupted early on by Trustee Benvenutti who asked, “Do you have any copies for the Board of the information you are reading from. I am not a CPA and certainly won’t remember all of this.”

Superintendent Ladner spoke up and said that they didn’t really want people having this information on the budget at this time as it is a work in progress. Benvenutti shot back, “who do you mean by “people?’ We are the Board who will have to approve this budget, and I want this information. Can you arrange for it to be emailed to us no later than tomorrow?” Ladner agreed.

There was a pretty lengthy discussion on what to do to remedy the ongoing situation at the football field concerning the drainage problem under the bleachers. Bill Carrigee, the new project manager, advised the Board that in order to do the job right and finish it, he would recommend breaking up the concrete under the section of bleachers that are affected, dismantling the bleachers and then reassembling them once the drainage is in place. This will be an additional $170,000 on an already multi-million dollar project. Continue reading “City of Bay St Louis asks Bay Waveland School Board for Municipal capital projects funding”

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire……..

Last night we had a public meeting double header here in the Bay so to make sure the local Alliance for Good Government had people at both we drew straws – Ron and I got the short ones and ended up at the Bay St Louis City Council meeting, which was a real snoozer since the finance department is on extended break. Council Prez Compretta ended up pushing the claims docket to the bottom of the agenda and I feel certain in saying sight unseen the stooges council approved it blind because Hizzoner said it was OK. Then the meeting adjourned so Hizzoner and stooges council could go the end of the Washington Street Boat Launch and dance naked in the pale moonlight.  Like I said, Ron and I drew the short straw.  I have the first 75 minutes or so on vid for posterity sake. Posting it for viewing could be construed as an act of wanton sadism so the editorial board here at Slabbed is hashing that part out as I write this.

Meantime over at the Bay Waveland School Board meeting the public was treated to quite a show. To set things up over the past several months the Alliance has been looking at the budgetary practices of the BWSD because the school district was amending its budget virtually monthly in a long standing practice and one that is absolutely unusual for a Mississippi K-12.  To go with that unusual practice is the fact there was absolutely no financial detail spread upon the Board’s minutes and after speaking with certain of the Board members the Alliance determined the School Board was not furnished any financial detail on any of these budgetary amendments.  Rumor holds that after each meeting in the six months ended December 31, 2014 after voting blind on these budgetary amendments Superintendent Ladner and the stooges School Board would head on down to the end of the Washington Street Boat Launch and dance naked in the pale moonlight but Slabbed has been unable to confirm this rumor.

In any event early this year certain members of the school board inquired as to what they  have been voting on in terms of those budget amendments.  Sources with first hand knowledge of the internal discussions have leaked to Slabbed New Media the documents and information they received, literally after months of inquiry and I have embedded this information below the jump. Continue reading “The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire……..”

Comment bump | Tidelandgate: Never a dull moment here in the Bay

Slabbed can add confirmation of Desdemona’s comment (edited):

Little fun fact for those interested… Good ole Rep Eure is REALLY good friends (like county club good friends) with the famous Miller Time. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe there was some kind of spat (not sure of the details) between Baria and a few employees of Marine Resources some time back (i could be wrong, yet it could have been a rumor) Eure being on the Appropriations Committee controlling money that is managed by Marine Resources… Coincidence? I think not. So, whatever shall we do with the remaining money boys? Same game, different players my friends…

In summary:

  • Rep. Eure is REALLY good friends with Jamie Miller, who is also very good friends with Joe Cloyd.
  • There was a confrontation between Rep Baria and DMR staffers
  • Rep Eure controls the house purse strings over DMR Tideland funding.
  • Rep Baria is currently on the bench in the State House as it is controlled by the GOP
  • Rep Baria and Bay Waveland School Superintendent Rebecca Ladner politicized the local public school district back in January with Ladner’s participation in the Democrat response to Gov Phil’s State of the State address, an action that continues to generate local criticism all these months later.
  • The City of Bay St Louis track record of financial mismanagement under the Fillingame Administration speaks for itself.
  • The Fillingame Administration removed the Harbor wave break from the State Funded Harbor design plans.  The pavilion at the Harbor where the bands play is super nice though.
  • BWSD Superintendent Ladner was recently rewarded for her actions with a new three year contract.

If this sounds like a FUBAR type situation to you, then we’re all on the same page.  And of course the people that suffer from the partisanship are the people that live here but that’s normally how it works.

In other news, Rep Baria’s replacement in the State Senate, Phillip Moran, the guy that Rep Baria tried putting under the bus in the early news coverage of Tidelandgate [Seacoast Echo story here] is on Tuesday’s City Council agenda: Continue reading “Comment bump | Tidelandgate: Never a dull moment here in the Bay”

Bay Waveland School Superintendent Rebecca Ladner gets continued criticism for poor results and politicizing the local schools

LANA NOONAN and AMES KERGOSIEN: Don’t politicize Mississippi’s education funding ~ Sun Herald Letters to the Editor

What are we getting for the money we’re already giving the local school district?

In 2012-13, 37 percent of third-graders in the Bay St. Louis-Waveland School District could not read at grade level. That number grew to 42 percent in 2013-14. Knowing these dismal numbers, what did our superintendent and school board do with our local tax dollars? Did they hire a reading coach to help these at-risk students?

No.

For the past 18 months, $481,336.57 of our local taxes were used for classroom supplies, as compared with $1.5 million (and counting) for a football field and $2.26 million for a parking lot.

Its a simple question of priorities folks.

Public Education: Why Johnny can’t read and a severe lack of transparency at BWSD dominates the local grapevine

The Clarion Ledger was on a tear over the weekend:

Education politics grow more absurd ~ Geoff Pender

Geoff, thanks for this article. What we are dealing with is an ELECTION YEAR. That is when any and everybody can get thrown under the bus, even the kids.

Educators sound off on Common Core, MAEP ~ Emily Le Coz

Loophole lets pedophiles get educator licenses ~ Emily Le Coz

Meantime for those that missed it a comment bump from Lana Noonan regarding a special meeting of the Bay Waveland School District’s Board of Trustees:

The Bay-Waveland School Board hit a home run again today in their efforts to operate under the same clandestine scenario that has become business as usual for them. At a special called meeting to interview potential architects for future projects, they chose to do so in Executive Session.

Now, currently, there is no provision in the Open Meetings Law in Miss. for discussing in Executive Session those professionals who will do contract work for a public entity, only the entity’s own personnel. In a effort to keep things clean, I reminded them of this, but Board Attorney Artigues, stated that this was a” special situation.” Really, after reading the Open Meetings Law, I could find no “special situations” that could be subjectively declared by a public Board or their attorney that would give permission to conduct the kind of business they did today. Continue reading “Public Education: Why Johnny can’t read and a severe lack of transparency at BWSD dominates the local grapevine”

Continued criticism of Bay-Waveland School Sup’s Partisan Political Activity

Bay-Waveland School Board member criticizes ‘politics’ ~ Geoff Belcher

My own opinion is Board Prez Sherry Ponder has lots to learn about both the Hatch Act and the First Amendment but that is another post. Board Member Maurice Singleton works at the Seacoast Echo, Board Prez Ponder is married to the publisher by way of background.

Here are Board member Mike Bell’s full comments:

As most of you may know, our Superintendent was recently involved in the rebuttal to the Governor’s State of the State address.

I am personally upset with our Superintendents involvement in this political partisan production. Instead of the usual live rebuttal on the house floor, they employed a video production unlike any I have ever seen.

Instead of her remarks focusing on educational issues like we were led to believe they would, and which we the Board of Trustees approved, the comments ran the political spectrum of states issues, government accountability, corruption, unemployment, medical care, hospitals, crumbling infrastructure, gas prices, nuclear waste, the department of transportation and women in the workforce. Continue reading “Continued criticism of Bay-Waveland School Sup’s Partisan Political Activity”

Guest post: Bay Superintendent Responds to Bryant’s State of the State Address

Bay St. Louis Superintendent of Education, Rebecca Ladner responded to Governor Phil Bryant’s State of the State Address last night.

Two of the things she cited the Republicans for were underfunded schools and underpaid workers.

These two points are interesting coming from her when I reflect back on 2010 in her second year as Superintendent in the Bay-Waveland School District. There was a district wide pay cut for all certified employees, and while some long standing employees took as much as 12% to 16% pay cuts on salaries that never exceeded the $30,000 range, she took a 10% cut on her $110,000.00. I don’t remember her complaining about the sad state of her faithful employees then, and how that was going to affect their retirement. So, while she is familiar with underpaid employees, she makes sure administrators are never in that mix. In a community where 78% of the families live at poverty level, some in her administrative staff (including her) make more than some state level elected officials.

As far as underfunded schools, she seems to have lots of local tax dollars to spend in Bay St. Louis. She just doesn’t have any interest in spending it in the classrooms. While teachers have always dug into their own pockets to make sure their classrooms have what they need, Ms. Ladner did manage to find somewhere near a cool million dollars (no one can seem to obtain totals) to spend on field turf for the football stadium.

Yes, the Republicans leave a lot to be desired when it comes to producing an effective educational system in our state, but don’t hold your breath waiting for it to be corrected by Democrats like Rebecca Ladner.

Lana Noonan, Chairman
Hancock County Alliance for Good Government

Slabbed welcomes all points of view on the topics we cover. Our readers can submit guest columns to Slabbed New Media. While we allow anonymous comments on the blog, guest columnist must submit a verifiable name and contact information in order to be published.