South Side teacher seeks science grant; Wheat thanks board

Published 5:05 pm Friday, March 4, 2011

South Side Upper Elementary teacher Kristi Wheat was given permission Thursday night by the Picayune school board to seek a Toyota science grant.

Wheat then raced home to submit the application by computer.

The teacher told the board for the Picayune Separate School District that she had only recently learned of the grant, the application for which was due by 11:59 p.m. Thursday night.

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If she receives the $10,000 grant, Wheat plans to build a “submersible” simulator in her classroom. With it, she plans to teach how man impacts the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico.

Students will be divided into teams, she said. When a team enters the “submersible,” some of the students outside of the vessel will simulate sea life outside the vessel as it sinks into the Gulf while others will occupy another module to communicate with the team inside the submersible, the teacher said. The purpose of the simulation is for students to study how man impacts the ecosystem of the Gulf and to solve problems dealing with that impact, Wheat said.

The board also approved a payment of $22,741.55 to Flagstar Construction for work on the Early Head Start expansion, but also decided to hold the payment. The construction company was supposed to have completed construction by Dec. 1, but has yet to finish. It is being charged $250 a day in late fees, said district business manager Lisa Penton. The payment approved Thursday, however, would not be the final payment for the project.

Penton also went over the amended budget for the year and the financial statement. She apologized to the board for a missed estimate at the high school. She also said the district soon will be receiving more than $300,000 in reimbursements from Medicaid now that the state has signed an agreement with he federal government over the federal-state program.

The board also learned of the resignation of choral teacher Sherri Lawley, who appeared before the board directing a choral group at the board’s last meeting. Several board members said they were sorry to see her go.

At the end of the meeting, member Duane Wheat praised the board for its quality of service during his tenure, especially for the past 10 years. Wheat said that with the election taking place Saturday, Thursday night’s meeting might be his last as a board member and he wanted board members to know how much he appreciated his time of service with them.

In other matters, the board:

— Approved personnel matters.

— Approved the minutes of the previous meeting.

— Approved the consent items, including five donations to the robotics team from A2 Research, Hedy Cibula, Diana Feeley, John and Denise Burr and Peter Banks and one from BP America to the girls’ softball team.

— Approved an interagency agreement with the Mississippi Department of Education.

— Approved an E2T2 grant and a Sight Savers America/Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation grant.

— Approved a school portrait agreement with LifeTouch.

— Approved the first reading of a policy on expense reimbursements.

— Approved a student release request.

— Approved Early Head Start self-assessment and correction action plans.

— Went into executive session on student discipline and on a request to address the board.