Poplarville school board will negotiate on lease with golf club

Published 2:00 pm Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The school board for the Poplarville Special Municipal Separate School District on Monday voted to enter into negotiations over 16th section land lease payments with Todd Lang, one of the owners of the Pearl River Golf Club.

However, school officials said that the final decision on the matter will still rest with the Secretary of State’s office, which oversees local school board management of 16th section school lands.

The action came after Lang at the Nov. 16 board meeting told the board that unless he gets some relief from his 16th section land lease payments, he will have to close down the operation, which basically serves the Poplarville area and north Pearl River County.

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At the Nov. 16 meeting, Lang said the facility is not only a golf club for residents interested in the game, but it also serves area teens as a clean recreational facility, and even hosts school tournaments.

“We operate a very clean establishment out here. We don’t serve any alcoholic beverages; the kids come out here for recreation, the elderly and a lot of other members. We have a family-type atmosphere. It would be a great loss of a fine facility if we have to close,” Lang told the board at its Nov. 16 meeting. “All the schools have their tournaments there.”

School board superintendent Carl Merritt said on Monday that Lang will have to obtain a separate, independent appraisal of his operation before negotiating with the school board.

“It is not necessary that we accept Mr. Lang’s appraisal data, but that gives us a starting point from which to negotiate,” Merritt told the board.

He said the final decision on where to set the fee still rests with the Secretary of State’s office.

“Mr. Lang will have to come back to the board and negotiate with you, but it will still have to go before the Secretary of State for approval,” Merritt said on Monday.

The golf course occupies 16th section land and therefore operates under a lease agreement with the Poplarville school board.

Each school district has 16th section lands set aside by the state which the districts, in conjunction with the state, manage to produce revenue for the school systems. Most of the revenue comes from timber sales.

The golf facility is one of three courses operating in Pearl River County. The other two are at Picayune and Lake Hillsdale. They all three are separately owned.

The Poplarville club is located at 33 South Valley Road off of Mississippi Highway 26 West. Lang, along with his father and another person, owns the company, Second Chance, under which the club operates.

On Nov. 16, Lang told school board members that his lease fees this year jumped 34 percent over the fees for last year.

The school board on Nov. 16 had agreed to talk to the Secretary of State’s office about the issue.

In other matters, Jo Laurin Davis, the high school librarian, who is also overseeing the accreditation process and preparation of a report that will go to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement, presented a draft report to the board for its review.

She said officials from the organization will tour the system on March 8 and 9 for a preliminary survey before making a decision on the accreditation. She told the board that the group will want to talk to the board.

The accreditation process is conducted by the organization, which is separate from state accreditation, every five years, said Davis.

The accreditation is considered essential for the school to remain in a top accredited position among its peers.

In other matters, the board:

— Approved a contract for the cafeteria alarm systems.

— Okayed the bid for the My Reading Coach software.

— Approved personnel resignations and recommendations.

— Approved the consent agenda which consisted of approval of: Special services travel contracts, alternative school travel contracts, funding of encore rehabilitation through IDEA funds, donations, substitute teacher list, disposal of equipment, turnaround bus requests and the claim docket, payroll, financial statement, activity fund receipts and minutes of the Nov. 16 regular board meeting.

— Adjourned to Jan. 11.