Superintendent resignation puts HPSD finances in spotlight - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Superintendent resignation puts HPSD finances in spotlight

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

Hattiesburg Public School District is facing a budget deficit, and school officials did not know, according to Superintendent James Bacchus' resignation letter.

In his resignation letter, Bacchus said:

"As you know, over the past four months, we have struggled to define the district's current financial status to the approved budget for the 2015-16 school year. The projections now show a deficit that was not anticipated. I have now found that neither I, nor the Board, was informed of some critical relevant financial information. Also, procedures were not carried out that would have normally allowed me to address financial issues of the district. As a result, my ability to lead the district as superintendent has been compromised." 

According to §37-9-18, state school board policy requires "At each regular monthly school board meeting: The financial reports shall be listed as an agenda item for discussion at each regularly scheduled meeting of the local school board. The minutes of the local school board meeting shall reflect that the financial reports were discussed. Each board member present shall be provided a copy of all required financial reports. A copy of all required financial reports shall be included in the official minutes of the board meeting at which the reports were discussed."

    WDAM 7 News looked through past Hattiesburg Public School Board meeting minutes to see if financial discussions were listed, and they were. 

    The code also requires: 

    • Reconciled Bank Statements
    • Statement of Revenues and Expenditures 
    • Current Budget Status
    • Cash Flow Statement by Month
    • Combined Balance Sheet

    or

    • Current Fund Equity Balances

    WDAM 7 News reached out to school board president Marcus Cathey and Mayor Johnny DuPree for comment, but neither were available for comment Wednesday.

    Todd Ivey with the Mississippi Department of Education said the department first learned about the financial situation Tuesday when Bacchus resigned. Ivey said the department will have research and review the situation before deciding if it will need to take action. 

    WDAM 7 News spoke to several business managers who oversee finances for other school districts in the Pine Belt, and all said they are in contact with their superintendents almost daily to discuss the budget. 

    Copyright 2015 WDAM. All rights reserved. 

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