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PRC school board urged to purchase portable classrooms

The Pearl River County School District needs to purchase some portable classrooms while looking at a more permanent solution to the district’s growing student population, Superintendent Dennis Penton told the district’s school board Monday night.

“We’ve got to think farther ahead than a temporary Band-Aid solution,” Penton said during his superintendent’s report. “We’ve got to purchase some portables and that is just a temporary solution. The problems we’re facing now is because 20 years ago, some decisions were made that didn’t consider down the road problems.”

“We know buying portables is a bad investment,” Penton told the board, “which is why I’m for building a new school for the district. We need to invest in the long term.”

Attorney Jim Young of Watkins and Young, PLLC, explained the process for a for the bond issue and the actual election,” he said. “Minimum time required is 25 to 30 days. It is a special election and the Justice Department must approve the election. It is 99.99 percent sure that the Justice Department will approve the election. Probably about one half of the school districts schedule their elections before the Justice Department preclears it. Some want to build in enough time to make sure the election is precleared. That decision is up to you.”

“We’re talking about a (time crunch) here,” said Penton. “If we construct a school and if we’re to be in it year after next, we need to move quickly and year after next is pushing it. We need to publicize it and offer the opportunity for public comment between now and our next meeting.”

The board decided to hold the public meeting in conjunction with the next regular meeting of the board at 6:30 p.m. on June 4. The board will come up with a clear and concise statement concerning the need for a new school instead of a “temporary Band-Aid” for school room space by that meeting.

In other discussions dealing with construction needed in the district, the school board decided the pre-kindergarten building on the McNeill campus is in such poor shape, maintenance and refurbishing would cost more than demolishing it and purchasing a portable building. The board decided to demolish the building and to put a portable one there for now since the play area for the smaller children must be separate from that of the older children, and the play area for Pre-K is already established.

May 30 is the last day of school and May 31 will be graduation at the PRC stadium, if weather permits. Back up dates for graduation are Friday, June 1 and at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 2.

Soccer coaches and the Soccer Booster Club spoke concerning the fields for practice. The board asked them to put together a proposal for their consideration at the next meeting.

The board also asked the handbook committee to revisit the dress code because the enforcing of it seemed to be inconsistent. The main change was in the colors that could be worn by the high school students and the middle school students.

“The main reason,” PRC high school principal Loren Harris said, “is so we can differentiate between the students.”

It is difficult to tell an eighth grader from a ninth grader from a distance if they are both wearing white or navy shirts, he said.

“We’ve had fewer problems now since we’ve gone to this dress code than ever before in the past,” Penton said. “We don’t dictate the brand … we’ve had the uniform evolve and we still have complaints. It’s not perfect, nor is the whole process and we will continue to tweak it, but we’ll still have problems and complaints.”

The board decided to get the attorney, Nathan Farmer, to research the question of requiring a particular brand and whether the uniforms could be bought through the school.

“That’s probably illegal for us to do that, but we’ll check into it,” Penton said. “The problem comes when you dictate who they buy from. I don’t think we should do that, nor dictate the price.”

Other business was to honor district retirees Carolyn Beech, Janice Dear, Glenda Harbeson, Sandy Lane, Myrna Lou Rester and Leonard Sones.

“I wish you a happy and safe retirement,” he said.

Administrator of the year was Assistant Principal Burlon Reid, who started his career in 1966 at PRC then moved to Bogalusa for 30 years before coming back to PRC in August of 2000. Penton said that Reid provided a good role model each day for the children.

Teachers of the year were Dianne Lumpkin, PRC Lower Elementary; Sena Ranatza, PRC Upper Elementary; Kim Jackson, PRC High School; and the District teacher of the year was Renee Burge, PRC Middle School.

Parent of the year at PRC Lower Elementary is Tracey Kelly, PTO president; PRC Middle School parent of the year is Lin Pope; PRC High School had tie between Janet Zamsky and Scott Olive. District Parent of the Year for the district is Michelle Ball at Upper Elementary. Star Student was Megan Douglass, and the Star Teacher was Virginia Bean.

“We’ve got a wonderful group of young people,” said NJROTC Chief Jim McClure said and he gave credit to the school board and parents for their support as the reason for the students doing so well. He thanked the board for enabling the students to go to the different competitions. They won regionals for the last three years and placed in the nationals for the last four years.