LCSD in receipt of sizeable grants to fund various programs

By BETH BUNCH,

Early Learning Collaborative will serve 240 students

With graduation just 10 days away, the Lamar County School District is wrapping up one year and is already planning for another. In fact, during its next meeting, set for June 10, the board will begin the budget process for the upcoming school year.

But for now, the district is extremely happy to be the recipient of several grants that will serve students of all ages throughout the district in the coming years.

Supt. Tess Smith announced during Monday’s board meeting that the district had received a 21st Century grant for the third time. She explained that this STEAM grant is related to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math and is focused on middle schools.

“For the first and second year we will get roughly $250,000 and the third year roughly $200,000 for a total just over $700,000,” she said. “That’s an amazing grant. The first year it was phenomenal.”

During the second year there were some issues because the district lost funding in the middle of the grant. “Hopefully they’ve worked those kinks out and we’ll be able to use this in our middle schools going forward,” she said.

The district is also up for renewal for its Early Learning Collaborative Grant. Smith said the district is in receipt of $301,000 per year for five years, as long as its funded by the Legislature.  “In the future we will be serving 240 pre-K students this next year, which is an increase of 40 students,” she said.

Notification of a nurse grant, which will supply the district with $250,000 during a five-year period, will cover the two part-time nurses that conduct the district’s Medicaid screenings.

These are in addition to a $30,000 STEM grant Oak Grove Primary was notified of Monday. (See story on Page 3A).

Another exciting venture the district will be entering into is Project Search. Smith explained that the district had joined forces with other districts on the financial end of the program.

The goal of the program is to increase the number of young adults with intellectual, cognitive or developmental disabilities to attain community-based employment.

Hoped to put four kids in that program.

Smith explained that this is an eight-month training program where participants will learn daily prep skills, community development, mentoring services an work internships. She said the district had hoped to have four students in the program, but because they were able to pick up another section from another district, five students will be able to participate. “We’re very excited about that,” she said.

Josette Sirmon, the district’s director of Special Education, explained that the students went through an interview process at Forrest General Hospital where they were interviewed by a panel. “They then went through some stations where they showed basic employability skills,” she said. “We had six go for interviews and five were accepted.”

District D board member Terry Ingram said it was a great opportunity for these students.

Deborah Pierce, District A board member and employee at FGH, said the hospital was very excited to be working with the students. “It will be a good partnership between the districts, businesses, for the kids and the community,” Pierce said.

In other business, the board

•  approved allowing the outsourcing of yearbooks in excess of $50,000.

Smith explained that the district was under new purchasing laws, which they were trying to abide. “We feel confident that this (outsourcing) is an option,” she said, noting that the only yearbook in the district that is in excess of $50,000 is Oak Grove High Schools, “which is an award-winning yearbook. “It’s an inch thick and very impressive and we want to give them the option to outsource a book of that caliber,” she said.

• Accepted and approved the low bid of $312,325 from R&R Sheet Metal for the roof replacement of Oak Grove Primary.

• Hired summer workers and painters for Baxterville, Longleaf Elementary, Purvis High School, Sumrall Elemenary, Oak Grove Primiary, Oak Grove High School, Oak Grove Upper Elementary, Purvis Upper, Sumrall High School.