LCSD board welcomes new member

By BETH BUNCH,

The Lamar County School Board started off a new school semester by swearing in two board members and electing board officers.

Terry Ingram, District D, and James Braswell, District B, were sworn in by Lamar County Circuit Clerk Martin Hankins. 

Ingram is an incumbent who was re-elected. He was chosen from eight candidates to fill the seat of former board member Mike Pruitt when he moved out of the district after 11 years on the board.

 Braswell ran for the office alongside Reginald Townsend in 2016, but both men were defeated by Carolyn Adams. When Adams resigned in July 2018, Townsend was appointed to fill out her term. Braswell and Townsend met again in November voting with Braswell coming out victorious, 1,669 votes to 949.

Retired, Braswell, 66, has a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Mississippi State University. He served 24 years as an officer in the United States Air Force.

From Purvis, Braswell ran for the post stating his experience as a businessman with education oversight and governance experience.

He served on the William Carey University Board of Trustees from 2013-15.

Ingram has 36 years of experience in education. A life-long educator, he is an assistant professor of education and graduate recruiter at William Carey University, where he works with former Lamar County Superintendent Ben Burnett, who is dean of the School of Education. 

Ingram served as principal at Oak Grove Middle School when the school was named a Blue Ribbon School, among other honors, and worked alongside current superintendent Tess Smith and School Board member Adams.

Ingram served as a teacher for about 20 years in Jones County, Stone County and Petal before becoming an administrator. His first experience as an administrator was in Petal before accepting a job in Lamar County. Since retiring, he has worked extensively throughout the state with Professional Learning Communities and improving school leadership.

He received three academic degrees at the University of Southern Mississippi: Bachelor’s of Music Education, Master’s of Educational Leadership and Specialist of Educational Leadership.

The board also elected new officers at the beginning of the meeting.

Buddy Morris, District E, was elected to serve as president; Deborah Pierce, District A, was elected vice-president; and Ingram was vote in as secretary.

In other business, the board set rates for 16th Section properties based on Treasury note rates as ofclosing Monday, which was 2.71 percent.

Commercial rates were lowered to 5 percent from last year’s 6 percent, while residental lease rates were left at 5 percent.

Approval was given for the Longleaf Elementary PTO to construct an outdoor classroom and STEAM learning center.

Oak Grove Primary was given the nod to apply for a $30,000 K-8 STEM Initiative Enhancement Grant through the Mississippi Department of Education.

Approved a new 5-acre recreational lease to the City of Purvis for a park.

The board also heard from Don McPherson, an educational consultant with ABM: Building Maintenance and Facility Service in regard to savings opportunities for the district s far as maintenance, energy systems and the like.

ABM was contacted in June of last year by Superintendent Tess Smith as to  ways this company might provide savings for the district.

“I feel strongly about this,” Smith said. “I wanted this to be a decision that came from the district level and felt the board should have all of the information.”

Currently the LCSD is spending about $1.22 per square foot, but McPherson felt confident that with upgrades they could get the district down to about $.98 per square foot, noting the vast square footage across the district.

After a preliminary feasibility study, McPherson reported ABM could provide $356,000 in savings per year for the district, without using numbers for Lumberton facilities, or more than $400,000 if Lumberton numbers were included. These savings would come from a variety of upgrades and replacements, whether replacing lighting with LED lights, centralizing HVAC controls, water conservation, ventilation upgrades and a preventative maintenance system, just to name a few.

McPherson provided the board a list of recommendations that would be tailored to the school district for these self-funded upgrades.

The company guarantees the savings quotes in any year of the program. “If we say you will save $400,000 in a year and you don’t, then we will write you a check for the difference,” Don McPherson, ABM representative said.

McPherson said if the board voted to move ahead with the project, the next step would be to sign a letter of intent.

If approval was given in February, McPherson said the company would more than likely present the final action plan in August. Once the plan was finalized it would take a little less than a year to finish all the work.

The board took the information under advisement and could vote at the February meeting.

The next meeting of the board will be at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11, at the Oak Grove Primary Multi-Purpose Building.