WDAM Guest Editorial- Hattiesburg Public Schools

September 29th, 2010

Hello, I am Marcus Cathey, president of the Hattiesburg Public Schools Board of Trustees.

Under state law, it is the members of the Hattiesburg Public Schools Board of Trustees who are charged with the responsibility of overseeing the district and its budget.

According to the law and the Attorney General's opinion, the City Council has one responsibility when it comes to the District's Budget: set the tax levy at the amount requested by the school board within the 55 mil cap.

The district requested an amount within the millage limit and according to state law, but unfortunately, the Hattiesburg City Council has decided not to follow the law.

The district's 2010-2011 budget included a $1.3 million decrease in expenditures, however the State of Mississippi decreased the amount of money given to school districts this year, which forced districts across the state to increase their requests for local tax revenue.

The so-called "rainy day fund" is actually the fund balance of our general fund, which is used throughout the year to make payroll, pay utility costs, and other district expenses. and is not a separate account the district is saving for the future.

The School Board Members are appointed by the Mayor and approved by the City Council. The current membership of the City Council approved each of the current members of the Hattiesburg School Board. We are accountable…but our ultimate accountability is to the children of the Hattiesburg Public School District.

The decision by the City Council to not follow state law put the district in the unfortunate position of having to seek a court to get the council to do what they were legally required to do.

The children of Hattiesburg Public Schools are Hattiesburg's children and they deserve our support. Thank you and God bless.