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Pearl River County School Board meets for first time in 2015

BACK TO BUSINESS: The Pearl River County School Board held its first meeting of 2015 on Tuesday, discussing a revision of school board member district lines and a newly implemented Culinary Arts program. Photo by Dart Spiers

BACK TO BUSINESS: The Pearl River County School Board held its first meeting of 2015 on Tuesday, discussing a revision of school board member district lines and a newly implemented Culinary Arts program.
Photo by Dart Spiers

Beginning next year, the students of Pearl River Central High School will have an opportunity to receive a national certification in the tourism and hospitality industry through high school coursework.
The Pearl River County School Board approved the conversion of the existing Food Products program to a Culinary Arts program at their meeting on Tuesday. PRC Career and Technical Education Director Kelli Beech believes the new program will give students seeking employment in the industry a significant advantage moving forward.
“This is a two-year program, and upon completion of the first year, the students will receive their Serve Safe certification,” said Beech.
The Serve Safe certification is required for on-site managers at fast food restaurants, and students who complete this program will be qualified for those positions without any secondary education, said Beech.
In the second year, students who complete the program will be given a Prostart certification. On their website, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation states that students who obtain this certification will be cross-trained in all aspects of operating a restaurant and are “ready to hit the ground running.”
Culinary Arts not only has a number of advantages for students looking to continue their careers or education in that industry, but it also satisfies a current student demand. In career surveys completed by students in all four classes, 2015 through 2018, Culinary Arts was the top selection for every class.
“They all want this program,” said Beech, who added that the courses will be especially beneficial for students due to the area’s proximity to a thriving restaurant industry in New Orleans and on the Gulf Coast.
Implementing a Culinary Arts program usually costs as much as $100,000, but thanks to the school’s existing facilities, the cost will be much less. Beech has also secured more than $20,000 from the state to cover the remaining expenses, making the district responsible for only a third of the total costs.
In other business, the school board tabled a discussion to approve changes to school board member district lines. The revisions to the district lines were submitted by the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors and were based on shifts in population that have occurred since the last time the districts were outlined. The school board tabled the discussion so more extensive research could be done.
Also at the meeting, the school board:
– Approved the Dropout Prevention Plan for the 2014-2015 school year.
– Tabled a decision to approve the Annual Policy Revisions from the Mississippi School Boards Association.
– Approved the Board Calendar for February 2015 to June 2015.
The next meeting of the Pearl River County School Board will be held on Feb. 2. Superintendent Alan Lumpkin alluded to the possibility of changing the time of future school board meetings from 6:30 p.m. to an earlier time. Tuesday’s meeting took place at 5 p.m., and Lumpkin said he received positive feedback from various people about the earlier starting time.