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Oktibbeha schools transfer funds to cover expenses


Bonnie Coblentz



STARKVILLE -- Officials for the Oktibbeha County School District transferred funds Monday night to cover a budget shortfall caused by emergency roof repairs and the funding cut from the state earlier this year. 


The district moved $276,941 from 16th Section Land interest to the general fund. Board member Yvette Rice made the motion, which was seconded by Herman Bush and passed unanimously. All board members were present for the special called meeting. 


"We''re about to close the year, and we don''t want to be caught with expenses more than revenue," Superintendent James Covington said. 


He explained that the 5 percent cut the district took earlier in the year plus the cost of the emergency roof repairs at East Oktibbeha Elementary School account for the majority of the shortfall. A remaining $32,000 bill for the district''s participation in the Quad County Alternative School accounts for the rest. 


District business manager Verlee Floyd said the funds transfer will leave just over $1 million in the 16th Section Land interest fund. Districts are not allowed to spend 16th Section Land principal, but can spend the interest. 


"The board can vote to use it for any legitimate purpose," Floyd said after the meeting. 


In their discussion before voting to transfer the money, the board talked about pulling out of the Quad County Alternative School. Rice suggested the board consider hiring their own licensed behavioral specialist at each of the schools to provide the services in-house that they are currently paying the Starkville School District to provide. 


"I''ll look into it," Covington said. 


The state Legislature has not announced education funding for the fiscal year that begins July 1, so the district does not yet have a budget. Covington told the board that he has been told the Mississippi House and Senate have agreed on a budget and a special session should be called in time to have a state budget by July 1. (See related story, 1A.) 


"We''re trying to guesstimate a budget based kind of on last year," Covington said. "We should have a budget by the next regularly scheduled meeting July 13." 


He said teachers have been given contracts, and the district will find a way to pay for them. 


The board voted unanimously to renew their insurance contract with Reynolds Insurance for the coming year. They are paying $81,457 this year, up about $8,000 from last year. 


"We had the buildings reassessed and found out we were $4 million under-assessed," Covington said. "The additional $4 million insurance cost us roughly $8,000. We have about $22 million in coverage; we had about $19 million." 


The board quickly approved student handbooks for elementary and secondary schools and the professional development plan for the district. However, they spent some time discussing the staff handbook, which Covington said will cover a professional dress code for employees. 


"If we''re going to have it, we need to enforce it," Rice said. 


The board tabled this matter to give Covington more time to develop this policy. 


They also discussed compensation for travel expenses for their board attorney. In the past, they funded several professional trips for him, but they discussed the need to stick with their policy and pay for just one out-of-state and one in-state trip a year for him. The matter will be addressed at their next board meeting. 


The board went into closed session to handle some personnel issues. They will meet again at 6 p.m. July 16 at the central office.




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