LCSD might shorten Christmas break by one day

By BETH BUNCH,

Sept. 5 dawned bright and sunny, but students around the Pine Belt, including those in the Lamar County School District, got the day off in anticipation of bad weather from Tropical Storm Gordon, which came ashore near the Mississippi/Alabama line Sept. 4.

Because Gov. Phil Bryant’s State of Emergency declaration only included the names of the coastal county school districts, other districts across the state who missed the day will be required to make it up.

During last week’s meeting of the Lamar County School Board, Supt. Tess Smith said she had fielded phone calls from parents who have already planned and paid for trips during the district’s two upcoming holidays – Fall Break (Oct. 8-10) and Thanksgiving, the week of Nov. 19-23, in the event those times were being considered to make up the day.

“That would cause a good number of absences if the make-up day was tacked on to one of those two holidays,” Smith said.

Those two months, October and November, are also Average Daily Attendance (ADA) months where daily absences are counted against the district in the money received from the state.

Each year, the State Department of Education calculates a “revenue limit,” which is the amount of money a district should receive in general funding for each student in a  public school. School districts receive that money per student based on attendance, not enrollment.

Not wanting the district to suffer on the attendance side, Smith recommended to the board that they cut the Christmas holiday one day short with students going back to class on Jan. 7 instead of Jan. 8 to make up the day. The board has yet to vote on the recommendation.

Smith said this will allow families pelnty of time with their holiday planning.

“I’d rather look there (the January date) than one of the ADA months, said District D board member, Terry Ingram.

During the recent Special Session by the state Legislature, it was announced that Lamar County would be the recipient of $3 million of the approximately $750 million distributed throughout the state as a result of the BP Settlement Bill – formally known as Senate Bill 2002.

Of those funds, $1 million was earmarked for the Lamar County School District to help pay for facility repairs and improvements at Lumberton schools following the consolidation with the LCSD.

Smith said she would like to see the school district’s money go toward improvements to the cafeteria and hallways at Lumberton High School, among other repairs.

“The hallways, they have lockers that are not in use, so I want to take the lockers out and put new flooring in most, if not all, of the buildings,” she said. “They need some HVAC improvements, and we’ve already put a few new security measures in, but we’d like to do some more fencing and more security gates.

“So I think that this will help tremendously to show the community our commitment to the school. We were already working on funds that we had access to, but this will just make it so much easier for us to put some new things in down there.”

Smith said during the meeting that evaluations had been conducted at the LHS and the HVAC system and cafeteria were a top priority.

Landry and Lewis Architects conducted the evaluation, assessing the structural aspects of the facilities.

“The LHC cafeteria needs to be larger,” said Smith, suggesting taking out the back wall in order to expand. She noted that two serving lines would bhelp with the function of the cafeteria and would help during a 10-minute window during the breakfast hour when all the buses are coming in. on of the cafeteria.

Asst. Superintendent Wayne Folkes announced the recognition of the district, which was recognized by the Mississippi High School Activities Association for its Scholar Athlete excellence.

According to Folkes, in order to receive this award a team must have a 3.0 and or better GPA. The LCSD had an overall GPA average of 3.70 for the 2017-28 school year.

Oak Grove and Purvis both had a GPA of 3.66 while Sumrall’s was 3.8.

LCSD had 66 teams represented for this award.

“In the past few years we have had a 3.66, 3.54, and 3.48 GPAs,” said Folkes.

In other action, the board:

• Approved debt payoff of a 2003 loan taken out when the Oak Grove football field was being constructed. Renovations were also made at this time to the Sumrall and Purvis fields. Paying off the debt early saved the district about $130,000 in interest.

• Purchased for Transportation, three 2019 Blue Bird Vision Sped buses at a cost of $259,000 from Burroughs Bus Sales Inc (state contract MDE-Purchase I Form), to be paid from district funds.

• Purchased for Technology, 11 65-inch displays at a cost of $15,950 from Howard Technology, to be paid from technology funds. Alternate quote Network Cabling, $26,950.

• Purchased for Technology, Lightspeed Renewal at a cost of $45,000 from Howard Technology, to be paid from Technology funds. Alternate quote, Treborn Co., $67,500.

• Purchased 90 Chromebooks for Purvis High School at a cost of $20,087 from CDW-G, to be paid from school activitiy funds. Alternate quote ITsavvy, $21,638.

• Purchased fencing for the football field at Lumberton High School at a cost of $21,218 from United Fence Co., to be paid from district funds. Alternate quote, Palmer Fence, $23,763.

• Purchased for Oak Grove High School, show choir costumes at a cost of $21,123 from Gail McInnis, to be paid from school activity funds. Alternate quote, Dianne Holbert, $20,670. The higher quote was chosen due to better quality and service.

• Accepted a donation for Oak Grove Primary, playground equipment with installation valued at $41,335 from OGP PTO, to be used by students.

 

The next regular meeting of the board will be 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15, at the Lamar County School District Boardroom, MLK Drive in Purvis.