Concern aired over school purchase bill

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Brookhaven School District board members made quick work ofa short agenda and Superintendent Lea Barrett pointed out areas ofinterest for the board to keep an eye on during Tuesday’s schoolboard meeting.

Barrett took special interest in Senate Bill 2972, which wouldrequire the district’s payroll and purchasing to be approvedthrough the Department of Finance and Administration in Jackson.Barrett said the bill refers to an education advisory committeethat would determine the scope of products and services.

“It seems pretty broad to me,” said Barrett.

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Barrett said the district always attempts to buy local wheneverpossible.

“I want Brookhaven people to be able to decide the quality of itemsthat we will purchase for our children,” said Barrett. “I thinkdistricts that are doing a good job with tax dollars should be ableto continue to do so.”

Barrett also said each school district varies on how much a teacheris supplemented based on experience and education level, which shesaid is something the bill does not notice.

“We all have our reasons for that supplement,” said Barrett. “Whilethe bill doesn’t address that, you can’t help but wonder if that’sgoing to become an issue.”

The bill is currently being combed over through the EducationCommittee and Appropriations Committee in the Senate.

The deadline for a bill to leave committee is Feb. 1, and then willbe passed to the Senate floor. If approved, the bill would bepassed over to the House of Representatives, where Barrett saidsimilar bills already exist.

“It’s certainly something we all need to be aware of,” saidBarrett. “And we all don’t have the same opinions, but we need tobe informed and express ourselves.”

Barrett also noted that the Mississippi Dept of Education istalking about a state board to determine when a student can exithigh school, which could be as early as 16.

Barrett said there will be a training session on Feb. 28 in Jacksonat the Mississippi Department of Education, and they will explainhow the changes might be implemented.

The superintendent said she saw a presentation on the new model,and from what she gathers, students with a high academic successrate or those who have demonstrated the ability to enter a careerpath could exit high school early.

She said the model was still in the works and the school districtwould know more after the training session.

The meeting ended with Barrett commending the board on a job welldone in their superintendent search and said Dr. Lisa Karmacharyawill take over as superintendent on March 1.

Barrett said she will stay involved until March 31, but not assuperintendent. She said her duties would include helpingKarmacharya find her way around and assist with any issues thatmight arise during the transitional stage.

Barrett expects that she and Karmacharya will have a greatrelationship.

“I told her that I love Brookhaven and I love the school districtand I want it to be successful,” said Barrett. “I will be herbiggest fan.”