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Renovations to begin soon to central offices

Renovations to the central offices for the Picayune Municipal Separate School District will start within the next couple of weeks.

The school board voted last night to allow district maintenance supervisor Arnold Smith and his crew to begin the renovations that will better tie the architectural features of the central office with those of Picayune Junior High School, to which it is adjacent and with which it shares a facade. The columns along the front of the building will be made uniform and a distinct entrance to the central offices closely resembling that of the junior high will be constructed.

When asked if the construction would be completed by the start of the 2007-2008, Smith said it was unlikely.

Reroofing of the central office is underway and will better tie the rooflines of the junior high and the central office when complete.

The board also recognized three students at the beginning of the meeting.

Maroon Tide football player Dale Meitzler was recognized for receiving the Football Academic Award for the Gulf Coast from the National Football Foundation at its banquet. Meitzler’s grade point average is 101.6.

Quarterback Micah Hickman was recognized for receiving the Rocky Byrd Quarterback Award from the same organization as the best quarterback on the Gulf Coast. He and Meitzler both plan to attend Mississippi College next year.

Recognized in abstentia was cheerleader Neil Jarrett, who has been selected as a cheerleader at the University of Kentucky.

Ginny Dodd, who was chairing the meeting in the absence of Harvey Miller, said that it is very rare for Kentucky to select a person as a cheerleader as a freshman. Most cheerleaders at the university are older and have been seasoned at a junior college.

During the recognition, Dean Shaw, who takes over as district superintendent in July, said he looked at the roster of quarterbacks selected as best on the coast over the past years and noticed that NFL great, Green Bay Packer quarterback Bret Favre was not on the list. He said he expected “great things” from both Hickman and Meitzler.

The board also voted to retire the number 24 basketball uniform number worn by Jonathan Bender when he played for the Maroon Tide. His is only the second number to be retired by the school district. The first was that of Kelly Wise for whom the high school gymnasium is named.

Shaw, long-time Tide basketball coach before leaving the position recently to devote more time to his position as head of the district’s Career and Technology Center, coached Bender when he played for the Maroon Tide. He said that Bender has been a good role model for students. He reminded the board of a basketball slam dunk contest sponsored by Bender over the past weekend and said he was returning in June for another event.

“I think this is something that is past due,” Shaw said. “He was the first high school basketball player in Mississippi drafted by the NBA. He went fifth in the first round.”

Shaw also mentioned several other of Bender’s accomplishments.

The only other basketball uniform number that has been retired is that of the late Kelly Wise, for whom the PMHS gymnasium is named.

At the suggestion of Dodd, the board will try to hold a reception for Bender, possibly in connection with a school board meeting in June.

The board also voted to approve the use of the gymnasium by high school coach Daniel Kennedy and his staff for a summer program for youth running from May 26-July 21 for students ages 5-12. The board also voted to consider providing a salary supplement for Kennedy, since he is volunteering his time to provide the program.

In other business, the board:

— Approved personnel matters.

— Approved consent items, including donations of $100 from the Mississippi Federation of Women’s Clubs to Nicholson Elementary and of $1,000 from Wal-Mart to Roseland Park Elementary.

— Approved finance matters, including a new 16th section lease, bids for obsolete buses and to transfer $80,000 to the QZAB note retirement from the 16th section interest fund.

— Approved the second and final reading of several district policies.

— Approved two grant applications.

— Approved agreements with the Pearl River County District on the alternative school, behavior modification and vocational schools.

— Approved Allowing WRJW to use the high school gym for a senior citizen’s fair and exposition June 6-8; South Side Lower Elementary for Picayune Police Summer Camps June 11-15 and June 25-29; bus transportation for the summer camps; and 1st Baptist Church prayer walk on Aug. 1.

— Went into executive session on discipline and personnel matters and approved the recommendations on both.

Adjourned.