CLAYTON -- Several items on the check accountability report for the Barbour County School for the months of June and July were called into question by a board member of the Barbour County Board of Education during the most recent board meeting held Aug. 12.
Board member Jimmie Fryer asked about several checks that were written, one for $3,520 to Premier Business Consulting that was classified as tires. Fryer was given the explanation of a coding error for the misclassification of the check.
Two other checks written to Hill, Hill and Carter, the county board of education’s lawyers, were also called in to question by Fryer. One check was written for $4,370 and another for $14,429.44. Fryer asked if either of these amount was a retainer for legal services.
Superintendent Matthew Alexander spoke up about the checks, saying, “I will say this… it does not help the bottom line, those of you who are looking at the amounts that we are writing checks for, it does not help, when we have individuals who are contacting our board attorney for trivial, frivolous things which she has to respond to and which she has to charge our system for. So, yes, we do have to have our attorney on a retainer; she is paid $175 per hour.
“It is my recommendation to the board, because I see the invoices that are detailed, and I see several contacts that are disturbing in terms with what these individuals might precede as something that is important enough to contact the board attorney on, so as we try to stay fiscally responsible, I would ask that board members bear in mind that when you contact the school board attorney that you are contacting the school board attorney based upon reasons that are sound, reasons that are highly important, etc. I rarely contact the board attorney; I try with everything in my power to work through whatever I am working through so I am not being fiscally irresponsible by contacting her knowing that it’s $175 per hour.”
The amounts paid that are shown on the July check register that totaled $18,799.44 were not for just two months Alexander pointed out, but included the time period beginning Jan. 1 to July.
“When I notice all these different contacts that board members have made and the notes that are included in terms of what was discusses, it’s just troubling,” Alexander said. “If we are all serious about saving money and not wasting money that we could be using for our children, for renovations that we need, for roofing projects that we need, for anything that we might need in emergency situations that might come up, I think we are shooting ourselves in the foot. Whether it’s intentional or unintentional, it’s not helping our bottom line.
“I can’t sit here and not be honest with the board and the community when I see things that are concerning. It’s easy to say one thing, but it’s what we do on the other hand that people need to be paying attention to. We are not fiscally responsible when we contact our board attorney at $175 per hour and talk about frivolous things that in the grand scheme of things don’t really matter.”