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Water Valley School Board Hire Stennis For Redistricting

Lydia Quarles (right), Senior Policy Analyst at the John C. Stennis Institute of Government, Mississippi State University, and Dallas Breen, Senior Research Associate, explained the provisions and the redistricting process to School Trustees.

By Jack Gurner

WATER VALLEY – The school district will have to be reapportioned under provisions of the Voting Rights Act in response to population changes determined by the 2010 census.

Lydia Quarles, Senior Policy Analyst at the John C. Stennis Institute of Government, Mississippi State University, explained the provisions and the redistricting process to School Trustees at their meeting Monday night.

She said that under the “one man, one vote” section of the Voting Right Act of 1965 the districts within the school district would have to as close to equal population as possible. The way to achieve this would be to divide the total population of the school district by five. “Then each district needs to be as close to that ideal population as possible.”

The deviation between districts should be under ten percent, she continued. “I say under ten percent because the Justice Department doesn’t apply strict scrutiny to your plan if your total deviation is under ten percent. You probably don’t want them to apply strict scrutiny to your plan,” she warned.

Currently the deviation in the school district is as much as 38 percent, according to Quarles. “The bottom line is that you are going to need to redistrict.”

Dallas Breen, Senior Research Associate from the Stennis Institute, followed Quarles. Breen, who laid out the figures for the Board, said that the ideal population for each of the five districts within the School District is 1389. “That’s taking the total population and dividing it by five.”

“What we are looking at here is getting these districts within 70 above and below,” he continued.

Both Quarles and Breen said they wanted to meet with the school board in a hands-on, working session. Quarles said that they could produce a map with new district lines that would meet Justice Department requirements. “But they wouldn’t be yours; they would be ours. What we prefer to do is help you decide on new lines.”

Quarles added that the process should take no more than two-and-a-half to three hours. She cautioned that there could be problems with the district lines because they weren’t clear on the map. The census provides the school district lines, but the way it is sub-divided into the five districts is not completely clear.

School Trustee Casey Washington asked how much was it going to cost to have the Stennis Center handle redistricting. Quarles answered, about $3,500, adding that it might take a little extra time to make sure that the lines are right. “They may not look funny to y’all. They just look kind of funny to us,” she said.

The board members agreed that redistricting is something that has got to be done. “Well, if we are going to do it, let’s get after it,” commented Trustee Pierce Epes, who moved to hire the Stennis Center to handle the process. The motion was approved unanimously.

The work session is scheduled for Aug. 8 beginning at 5:30 in the District office boardroom and is a public meeting. The two required public hearings will be scheduled later.

Among other actions at the June 20 meeting, the Board of Trustees:

• Heard a financial up-date from District Business Manager Randy Goodwin.

Goodwin reported that the District maintenance fund had a cash balance of $1,606,016.71 as of May 31. The fund balance was $1,640,873.06.

• Paid claims.

• Approved the only bid for liability and property insurance from Wellington Associates for $57,098.

The trustees declined optional coverage for “property terrorism.”

• Approved the purchase and adoption and use of lunch tags for the school cafeterias.

Meghan Marshall, Food Service Director for the School District, told Trustees there was about $1000 in charges made to student cafeteria accounts during the last school year that were incorrect. “Sometimes the children would forget their number and sometimes an adult wouldn’t scratch their name off the list,” she said.

Marshall explained that under the proposed system the child will wear a lunch tag and the cafeteria cashier will scan it as the student passes. The cost of the equipment and tags is estimated at $760.

The motion passed four to one with Trustee Taylor Trusty opposed.

• Raised the price of a school lunch from $1.50 to $1.75 and breakfast from $1 to $1.25.

• Heard from School Resource Officer / Trans-portation Director Mario Weekly who requested permission to dispose of an “almost full” propane tank at the bus shop.

Trustees suggested that Weekly contact a supplier to see if they would purchase the gas.

During his discussion with the Board, Weekly also noted that the bus route covering County Roads 90, 95 and Velma Road had become overcrowded and that the District’s maintenance truck needed replacing. The Trustees suggested that he come back to the board with recommendations.

• Tabled action on a new contract with Communicare.

• Agreed to rebid for a replacement boiler at Davidson Elementary.

Trustees decided that the replacement should be a standard efficiency boiler and they wanted bids from three different firms.

• Accepted a low bid of $6784 from Marchbanks for replacing the roof of the classroom attached to the vocational education building.

• Heard the final superintendent’s report from Dr. Deborah Moran.

The Superintendent said that average daily attendance at Davidson Elemen-tary School is 96.05 percent, which is only .45 percent away from the 96.5 percent goal. The ADA at the high school is 93.16 percent, 3.34 percent from the goal.

Total enrollment for the District is 1225, down from 1295 at the beginning of the year.

Dr. Moran’s report is reproduced in full below and on the District site at www.wvsd

• The next regular meeting of the board will be Thursday, July 7, beginning at 6:30 at the district office boardroom.


Superintendent’s Report

Dr. Deborah Moran

Month 9 Data has been verified in MSIS. Davidson Elementary is 96.05%, up .53% and only .45% away from our goal of 96.5%, Water Valley High School is 93.16%, up 2.12% which is 3.34% away from our goal of 96.5%, which makes our District ADA 94.79% which is 1.71% below our goal. The year to date data is not available at this time.

Discipline-Davidson Elementary has 605(87.25%) students out of 693 that have NO discipline referrals for the month. Water Valley High School has 445(83.6%) students out of 532 students that have NO discipline referrals.

Our total enrollment dropped from 1295 to 1225. District enrollment has gone from 1295, 1274, 1285, 1281, 1270 1276, 1264,1236, 1225. Davidson Elementary and WVHS lost students. DBS started the year with 713 and now has 693. WVHA started with 582 and now has 532.

Preliminary SATP info has been shared with the administrators. As we wait for MDE to verify the information I am hopeful that Mr. Chrestman will find good news to share with the students and community shortly. I want to recognize all of the faculty that work with subject area testing for their willingness to be mentored by JBHM and ‘walk the walk’ for our students. The success that our schools and students achieve is a result of hard work, caring, and desire from everyone, faculty, staff, and community that touches the lives of the student.

Things continue to go well for renovations at Water Valley High School. We have completed two progress meetings with the contractors and subcontractors. They continue to strive for excellence to get this project completed. We have had absolutely no problems that I am aware of. I continue to be very pleased with the job and the people doing the job. I know that Mr. Chrestman and our Board of Trustees will be pleased with the quality of work and the job when it is complete.

We scheduled our Public Hearing for the 2012 Budget for Thursday, June 23rd at 6:30 p.m. Our next scheduled Board Meeting is Thursday, July 7th, 6:30 p.m. This is a change from my last report of a meeting on July 11th.

This is my last official Water Valley School District Board of Trustees Meeting as your superintendent. My favorite poem that I shared with the Faculty on my first day of school is, “The Road Not Taken”, by Robert Frost. The poem ends by saying, “I took the road less traveled and that has made all the difference”. Thank you, town of Water Valley and Water Valley School District for this opportunity to work and serve as your superintendent. I pray that I have left your school district a little bit better than I found it and that I have touched the lives of the faculty and student body in a way that you will be able to remember positively (that does not include snow or tornadoes). I know that the butterfly effect can be both positive and negative so forgive me if I made a negative impact on your life. I always did what I thought was best for the student first and then the school. I will end with a quote from Rascal Flatts; “My wish for you (Water Valley School District) is that this life (education) becomes all that you want it to.”

Best Wishes! Mr. Chrestman, Water Valley Board of Trustees, Faculty and Student Body.

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