Parent of the district announced

Published 11:20 pm Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A number of achievements were announced, such as theater related awards, parents of the year and two organizations expressing interest in helping to reduce the drop out rate and the board also dealt with a price increase for school meals.

There was one sour note among all the good news at Tuesday night’s meeting of the school board for the Picayune Municipal Separate School District. At the end of the meeting, board members expressed their sadness over board member Ginny Dodd’s resignation.

Only one matter the board took action on Tuesday will hit parents in the pocketbooks, an increase in breakfast and lunch prices. Dodd said in the past the board has implemented price increases about once a year, usually by 25 cents.

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The proposed increase at Tuesday’s meeting was for breakfast to increase by 50 cents to $1.25 and for lunch to increase by 25 cents to $2. During the board’s discussion, member Tony Smith said there may be avenues the district could look into that might save money, such as the amount of waste in the kitchen.

Prices for breakfast and lunch at the Pearl River County School District were said to be $1 and $1.75 respectively. Board member Edward Stubbs suggested implementing a uniform increase of 25 cents for breakfast and lunch, rather than the greater increase of 50 for breakfast.

Stubbs, Dodd and Duane Wheat voted to approve an increase of 25 cents for each meal, putting prices at $1 for breakfast and $2 for lunch for students and adults. Smith and board member Harvey Miller abstained from the vote.

Dodd asked superintendent Dean Shaw to look into allowing parents whose financial situation has changed since the beginning of the school year to reapply for free or reduced lunch prices. The person keeping the minutes for the board mentioned that the school has a method of identifying students who are behind on meals, and forms are then sent to the parents.

Theater teacher Bill Rester gave a presentation to the board concerning the many awards theater students won in their recent competition. In the Mississippi Regional Theater Festival, the Picayune Theater students won the Peer Choice Award and the Best Belly Laughs Award. However, the students did not place in the top five at the competition.

“We’re a small fish in a big pond as far as theater is concerned,” Rester said.

In the Ten Minute Play Festival, where five students were sent to compete, individual awards were presented to Picayune Memorial High School’s students, including best writer for drama, best comedic writing and best stage manager. The competition takes students from all the competing schools and mixes them up to form teams, Rester said.

Rester then expressed his appreciation to the board for their continued support, saying that a lot of his students tell him that they only come to school because of the drama class.

Parents of the year were also presented to the board from a number of schools. Clu Hendrix was announced as Nicholson Elementary’s parent of the year, Melissa Heath is West Side Elementary’s parent of the year, Penny Stettinius is South Side Upper Elementary’s parent of the year, Billy Walley is Picayune Memorial High School’s parent of the year and Paige Stockstill is Picayune Junior High’s parent of the year. At the end of all the presentations, Hendrix was announced as the district parent of the year.

Two local community groups expressed interest in working to help lower the district’s drop out rate, Picayune’s Youth Leadership Council and Partners for Pearl River County. Both groups said they would like to offer some form of help, though did not specify what kind, to help troubled students get an education.

“It just really hurts to hear some of those good minds going to waste,” Partners board member Glade Woods said.

Shaw said he will have discussions with both groups to work out the details.

At the end of the meeting, each board member said he will miss board member Dodd, who recently announced she will be stepping down from the board after ten years of service to care for an ailing family member. Each member noted how after Dodd joined the board improvements could be seen in the district and how she always expressed a sincere interest for each student’s education and extracurricular actives. Miller also suggested the board allow Dodd to present her son his diploma when he graduates from Picayune Memorial High School.

The board went into executive session to discuss a student discipline matter, which is typically not public record.

In other business the board;

— Accepted donations from Field and Flower Plant Co. of 56 flats of flowers, valued at $873.60, to the Campus Maintenance Program and from Dr. D.L. Bolton of two $1,500 scholarships in his late wife’s honor.

— Hired Gary Bailey as the district’s architect.

— Approved the use of the high school stadium for this year’s Special Olympics Track and Field Day.

— Approved advertising for quotes in order to purchase five new buses.