Board president: Tough times ahead for Hattiesburg schools

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — The president of the Hattiesburg Public school district says the system faces tough times ahead as the board of trustees deals with a deficit of unknown proportions.

Board President Marcus Cathey tells The Hattiesburg American ( board members are waiting for the results of a routine, annual audit from the Mississippi Department of Education to get an idea of how big the deficit is.

"Once we have the audit, we will have a clearer picture of the overage from last year," Board President Marcus Cathey said in an email. "We are talking with district administration and letting them know we expect some difficult decisions ahead as we make cuts and changes to get the district where we need to be financially."

The financial situation at the district prompted Superintendent James Bacchus' resignation Tuesday. In his resignation letter to Cathey, Bacchus said the projections showed a deficit that was not anticipated. Bacchus said neither he, nor the board, had been informed of critical, relevant financial information.

"The monthly updates that were given to the board by the business office were either inaccurate or did not include a full picture of what we were dealing with," Cathey said. "We were not made aware of overages last year that would have had an impact on the planning of this year's budget.

"There were also some details that were not shared with us in a timely fashion."

When asked if business manager Terry Stennis was still employed by the district, district spokesman Jas N Smith said he could not comment because it was a personnel matter.

Cathey said Bacchus failed to take some actions that would have kept him and the board informed of the deficit.

"It appears there was not enough oversight and specific management to ensure information was being delivered accurately and in a timely fashion for the board to make decisions," he said. "Right now, we know there were a number of expenditures that far exceeded the budget."


Information from: The Hattiesburg American,

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