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Trusty Receives Nod To Lead School Board

New school board president Taylor Trusty (right) listens as Randy Goodwin, district business manager, goes over finances. – Photo by Jack Gurner

By Jack Gurner

WATER VALLEY – Taylor Trusty, a veteran of nine years of service to the School District Board of Trustees, has been elected president of the board.

            Lamar Burgess, who had served as president since January 2010, announced at the Jan. 20 meeting that it has been a tradition in the local school district that all seats are open for election. “With that being said, I would like to make a motion for Taylor Trusty as president, Cayce Washington as vice and Pierce Epes for secretary.”

            “You nominating us like that?” questioned trustee Cayce Washington, who appeared to be taken by surprise by the swift listing of potential officers.

            “Is there any discussion?” Burgess asked with a grin.

            “You’re a wise man, Lamar,” said Washington. “I like it.”

            “You have to be careful who you call wise,” Burgess answered and called for a second and then a vote, which was unanimous.

            “Gentlemen the seats have changed,” he added and then asked Trusty if he would like to swap chairs.

            Trusty chose to remain in his traditional center table position. His first order of business was to hear a report on the most recent audit from Brent Ballard of Fortenberry & Ballard PC.

            District business manager Randy Goodwin introduced Ballard and told trustees that he would go over the June 30, 2014 audit report and explain the PERS unfunded liability.

            Ballard said that the most important thing is, “it is a clean opinion; an unqualified opinion. That’s always what you want to hear from your auditor.”

            He continued that his firm also issues an opinion on the district’s federal program compliance and said that this year they looked at the child nutrition program and there were no problems found. “In fact the opinion that we issued is an unqualified opinion on that program as well,” Ballard said.

            The auditor then moved on to changes in the way the district’s liability to the state retirement system is reported. He explained that over the past ten to twelve years, a lot of focus has been put on the money in retirement systems because some are underfunded and in some cases woefully underfunded.

            Ballard said that due to changes in governmental accounting standards, all entities that are part of retirement systems will now be required to report their expense “as you go.”

            “The total PERS unfunded liability for the end of  (fiscal year) 14 was just under $15 billion,” he said. “Water Valley School District’s piece would be $13.3 million.”

            Ballard continued that the district’s total net assets is $4.2 million. “If you do the math on that that would have been a negative $9 million.”

            He noted that the accounting standard applies to every school district in the state as well as every municipality, county and every other local entity and each is going to have to show their unfunded liability.

            “There is really nothing you can do about it,” he concluded. “You have fulfilled your responsibility when you match your contribution.”

            Ballard speculated that the purpose was to make the figure so visible that PERS would work toward fully funding their system.

            Among other actions at the January meeting, trustees:

            • Approved a request for an out-of-district transfer from Calhoun County.

            Superintendent Kim Chrestman explained that a family that lives very near the Water Valley district line in Calhoun County has added additional young family members. They requested and received permission to attend school in the Water Valley District with siblings who are already students here.

            • Heard a report on average daily attendance from Chrestman who said that student ADA at Davidson was at 95.38 percent and the high school was at 95.41 percent. For teachers, the ADA at Davidson was 95.32 percent and 96 percent at WVHS.

            • Paid claims and heard a financial report from Goodwin, who noted that the fund balance as of Dec. 31 in the district maintenance fund was $1,071,560.07.

            • Heard the Superintendent’s Report from Chrestman in which he congratulated the Water Valley Schools Chest Club for their success at the Ole Miss Chess Tournament on Jan. 10. He said that Conner Gray (senior) placed second and Laine Burns (3rd grade) also did well.

            ” Conner placed 2nd in the tourney and received a six-semester hour scholarship to the university,” Chrestman added. “Conner plans to attend Ole Miss so he picked up a couple of free classes for his efforts.  Thanks to Mr. Ramirez for sponsoring the club and to all of the students who participate in the WVHS Chess Club.”

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