Five students in Early Head Start receive instruction at private homes

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, May 28, 2014

During Tuesday’s Picayune Separate Municipal School District Board of Trustees meeting it was discussed that five students under the Early Head Start program receive instruction at a private home due to a lack of space at the school.

After board member Lori Blackmer asked about an expense dealing with child care at a private home, Assistant Superintendent Brent Harrell said the expense is associated with two child care providers who provide Early Head Start services at a private home.

“I don’t understand why we’re providing in-home babysitting service,” Blackmer said.

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Harrell said the reason those students are being cared for and instructed off-site is because the regional office allots a certain number of slots for each district. Finance Director Lisa Penton said the regional office allotted the district 150 slots, but Picayune only has space for 145 of them.

Those two child care providers have to meet the same requirements as those who work on-site and the children receive the same instruction as those who attend class at the Early Head Start location, Superintendent Dean Shaw said.

Board member Jimmy Hancock asked why the district is allotted more slots than they have room for.

Harrell said if the slots are not utilized, then the funding will be reduced.

A matter concerning moving an English teacher to the math department brought board member Frank Feeley to commend the district on their efforts to promote within the district.

“It gives our people something to look forward to,” Feeley said.

Work on Roseland Park’s multipurpose building is nearing completion. Harrell advised the board to hold the final payment to the contractor until the district receives the warranty for the roof. The board approved a motion to that effect. Shaw said the contractor for the project has been a pleasure to work with.

Plans to rectify drainage issues at the baseball field are in the works. Picayune Memorial High School Athletics Director Walt Esslinger said the work will not only make the field easier to use after a rain event, it will also address drainage issues under the bleachers. Esslinger said he has talked with Assistant Principal Kristi Mitchell about drainage at the girl’s softball field, who feels confident that drainage there is fine the way it is.

A previous matter covered in an April board meeting concerning applying for the Community Eligibility Provision program was updated during Tuesday’s meeting. Tentatively, the program would provide all children at at several elementary schools with free lunches. Harrell asked the board to table the matter after it was discovered Picayune was the only district to apply. Harrell advised the board that he would like to be sure what the district is getting into before moving forward. Another cause for concern is that new regulations were established late last week, after the district already applied.

“So it’s a work in progress at this point,” Harrell said.

The board approved tabling the matter.

The school district will no longer be involved in the election of two board members. Of their five member board, three positions are appointed by the city council and the remaining two are elected by residents who live outside the city limits, but still within the district lines. Harrell said those elections will now take place with general elections. Circuit Court Clerk Vickie Hariel said her office will be responsible for those elections and the next one is scheduled in two years.

For the months of June and July all school board meetings will take place at noon, except for next June 10 meeting, which will start at 11:30 a.m. in order to hold a budget hearing.