Article Comment 

Local Voices: The Columbus School Board responds to editorial




This is in response to your editorial dated August 10, 2011: 


The Board of Trustees of the Columbus Municipal School District is accountable to many different constituencies: the district''s boys and girls, employees, taxpayers and citizens. We have a responsibility to the boys and girls of the district to provide them with a high quality education. We understand our responsibility to our employees, who work hard to make each and every child successful. We know the taxpayers are the ones who financially support our educational efforts. We make good use of those funds. We also understand our responsibility to the general public, because we know the quality of life here in Columbus is greatly impacted by the quality of our educational product.  


We respect the mayor and city council individually and collectively. We have met with the mayor and his team on three separate occasions to provide a status report to them regarding our budget process. In those meetings, we provided a detailed analysis of the district''s finances. We also offered to meet with any city council members that were not present at one of the three previous meetings. 


The reason we opted not to have a joint meeting of the school board and the mayor and City Council was because of certain language in the Mayor''s letter. We were told, "... all parties now meet and formulate a strategy and plan on where to go from here ... " This sounded to us like the mayor and city council wanted to help craft the school district''s budget. According to Mississippi state law, the school board is an independent body and must follow all legal procedures.  


We questioned the propriety of such a joint meeting and sought the advice of experts in the fields of school law and school finance before deciding not to engage in the proposed joint meeting. Mike Waldrop, Executive Director of the Mississippi School Boards Association; David Dunn, CMSD Board Attorney; Jim Young, Young Law Group, and Jim Keith, Adams & Reese all advised against a joint meeting. Mississippi State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Tom Burnham, also advised against such a joint meeting between the School Board and the Mayor and City Council.  


We have followed the process that every Mississippi School District follows in preparing and submitting our annual budget. The interim superintendent and management team drafted a proposed budget that was presented to the school board. We then had a public budget hearing, which is required by law, at which citizens were informed about the proposed budget and asked questions. We answered every question and listened to every comment. Last Monday night the Trustees adopted its budget and hand delivered it to the mayor and city council on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011, six days ahead of the Aug. 15 deadline.  


Another example of our sensitivity to the public''s need and desire to obtain public input is our inviting the community on Sept. 13, 2011, to provide input to the Mississippi School Boards Association, which is assisting with the superintendent search. The public''s input is a critical component in assisting the trustees to establish the criteria for our next superintendent. As we have done in the past and will continue to do in the future, we will listen to every suggestion by the public and district employees.  


During the last few weeks, there has been a great deal of discussion and misinformation about the school district''s budget. According to Lowndes County Tax Assessor, Greg Andrews, the school district has been shorted approximately $1.8 million the past three years, because the correct millage was not assessed by the city. If the correct millage had been assessed, the district would not be facing such difficult financial decisions.  


The school board''s focus is on the future and doing everything possible to provide each and every child in the Columbus Municipal School District with a high quality education. We are all in this together, but it takes a collaborative effort from everyone to become the best school district our community needs and deserves. Our focus will continue to be on the children of the Columbus Municipal School District.  


Currie Fisher 


Bruce Hanson 


Glenn Lautzenhiser 


Tommy Prude 


Alma Turner 


The signatories of this letter compose the board of trustees Columbus Municipal School District.



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Reader Comments

Article Comment sweetbaby commented at 8/11/2011 11:30:00 AM:

How blind are the people of Lowndes County? It's going to take more than one person to get things right around here...what are you waiting on? I can't do it by myself!!!


Article Comment trouble commented at 8/11/2011 4:43:00 PM:

If you all are providing the children with a quality education then why are there NOT enough books for the children at the high school to bring their textbooks home so they do homework or do they not assign homework anymore?


Article Comment maddawg commented at 8/11/2011 10:18:00 PM:

Turn off the tap of federal program funds to all local schools... That may sound crazy, but it would be a giant step toward returning control of our children's education to families and assure quality and cost effectivness for each student in our school system. Texas has done it, and it works. Shutting down federal programs would reduce the cost of educating a child by 71%. 71%! Get rid of the Federal Department of Education and save us $ 567 Billion per year, while improving the quality of education in our state.


Article Comment honestabe commented at 8/12/2011 8:51:00 AM:

The Texas Education Agency administers billions of dollars in both state and federal funds that support a variety of programs to benefit public education. Funds come from multiple sources, including state and federal coffers, grant organizations, the Permanent School Fund endowment, and others. This section of the TEA website includes information pertaining to all aspects of school funding, including financial audits.

He (Gov Perry) repeatedly criticizes her for seeking federal dollars, not mentioning that much of that money goes to popular projects back home. Texas, for instance, got more federal money for defense and veterans in 2008 than any other state, and direct federal spending made up 18 percent of the state's economy that year.

For every dollar Texans paid in federal taxes, 89 cents came back to the state through direct federal spending or money to state and local governments or residents, according to an analysis of 2008 data by the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a policy group that is an advocate for low- and moderate-income families.


Article Comment ready4achange commented at 8/12/2011 1:41:00 PM:

60 elementary teachers will lose jobs (it's on it's way to happening soon), but yet, children are already jam packed into classrooms as it is! For instance, at Joe Cook, kids can barely pull their chair out without bumping another student. They are overcrowded. Yes, we have a new "state of the art" middle school...needed, yes? But perhaps not if proper maintenance was performed in a timely manner to existing facilities. We have a very nice highschool. But maintenance is not being performed! Take the auditorium for example. The chairs are covered in who knows what, trash litters almost every row, trash has sat on the stage in a bag forever! The Gym bathrooms, DISGUSTING! Urine sits in stopped up toilets, mold, mildew, and just pure nastiness abounds. (Faculty and Admins, just take a look around you and you will see!) These are the things that can be SEEN with the eye. Who knows what maintenance is needed that cannot be seen. Get it together Columbus!! We cannot preach to our children, (taking care of things, finances, etc) what we do not adhere to ourselves!


Article Comment carmen commented at 8/12/2011 4:57:00 PM:

WOW!!! Columbus City Schools, due to the unnecessary painting of the FIRE ZONE area just created and the STAY OFF THE LAWN signs. Where did the money come from? If you are having financial shortage, avoid little things like that and expensive trees waiting to die. Now, let us not forget about the jobs created by a friend to help a friend, for the individuals who are not certified to teach or watch our kids but they have a high paying job that classified them to be important and have an office.

We as parents and taxpayers need someone who are willing to stay in this district to fight and work hard to get our kid where they need to be, not an individual who want to fly in and add more lines on his/her resume. Leaders do not thrive on the petty stuff but to enhance what is important for the district. In order to teach our kids how to learn and do what is right we need some sort of leadership in the school administrators, and board position.

We need our teachers not the individuals who only want an office to say I work for Lowndes County School District! Teachers remain Teachers and Preachers remain Preachers!


Article Comment zipporah commented at 8/12/2011 6:06:00 PM:

There are so many people wondering how the district could get by with not taking bids on a construction job. Aren't there laws that say jobs must be advertised and bids taken? Rumors abound that the same construction crew also did personal work for the one responsible for hiring them.I think the public should have the right to know how much money was spent on landscaping and clothing. Yes, clothing.


Article Comment trouble commented at 8/13/2011 11:55:00 AM:

People of Columbus let's not Shannon off the hook. He was Phillips right and left hand man, personally hired by Phillips. He did his spending too. 10,000 thousand dollar poster machine at the high school. Poster machine for what. Dig up those 48,000 thousand trees at the football field. And those 40,000 speakers out there as well.


Article Comment zipporah commented at 8/13/2011 1:31:00 PM:

As a parent, if my child were failing, I would probably pay $100 if it would get him a passing grade. Parents will do what they can for their children. What truly disturbs me is the money paid to get this passing grade, where does it go? (cash) IF it is truly to help the students, why charge? How many grades can be bought? Is there a limit? This extended school, as it is called, lasts 1-2 days. Let's not let Shannon off the hook. Is this money put into an activity fund? Are receipts given? What if I loose my receipt before my child gets to be a senior, ready to graduate, and we are told there is no record of his taking the extended school when he did?


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