PRC School Board discuss multi-million dollar bond for new construction

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Superintendent Alan Lumpkin voices his opinion on the motion to have a student representative join the Board. Photo by Taylor Welsh.

Superintendent Alan Lumpkin discusses with the Board what the names of the newly constructed buildings will be during Thursday’s board meeting, which will be presented at a later date this week along with the official ballot.
Photo by Taylor Welsh.

During the Pearl River County School District’s Board of Trustees meeting Thursday, the Board discussed updates concerning the special election that will decide if the district will issue a multi-million dollar bond for new construction. Trustees also renamed the counselor position at Pearl River Central Middle School and representatives of each school discussed the Christmas events they have planned before the holiday break.

The Board started discussing the special election in September. On Thursday, the Board finalized the 20-year, $17 million bond to build Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) facilities on the Carriere campus, other classrooms on the McNeill campus and a performing arts auditorium at the Carriere campus.

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The $17 million bond will require an increase of seven mills to over the 20-year period, which will be levied to property owners in the district.

“To put everything in perspective, if a property owner had a home with a total assessed value of $100,000, they would pay an increased tax of less than $6 per month,” Lumpkin said.

Superintendent Alan Lumpkin said he has three priorities for the new construction, the first being to eliminate mobile classrooms at both campuses. These mobile structures also house central offices for the district.

“We have got to get out of the mobile units,” Lumpkin said.

Also, because of the rapid growth of enrollment in the district recently, Lumpkin said the addition of classrooms would alleviate the strain on facilities in the district. This year, the district saw an increase of 200 students, he said.

Another priority for Lumpkin is to provide an auditorium at the high school to offer a multi-purpose facility that students and the community can benefit from.

Lumpkin said he plans to rent out the auditorium to the community during the school’s off-hours to help support the maintenance costs.

Upon completion of the STEM facilities at the high school, performing arts auditorium and the other classrooms at the McNeill campus, Lumpkin hopes to use the remaining money from the bond to renovate and repurpose old classrooms and build adequate restroom facilities at their football field.

“We got to be as efficient as possible with our money during this process. We plan on using all the old classrooms and the architect is going to be huge in suggesting what we can and cannot do,” Lumpkin said.

No plans are finalized for renovations until the district gets the approval of the architect.

The special election will take place on March 7, 2017.

Another topic discussed during Thursday’s meeting involved PRC Middle School’s search for a certified candidate to fill the position left open by the former counselor Carmen Geraci. After being unsuccessful in their search, the Board was approached with an alternative, to rename the position to Student Support Coordinator.

“The reason was due to not having a good pool of certified counselors in the area,” Lori Burkett, middle school assistant principal, said.

Renaming the position not only allows a non-certified candidate to take over the job, it also provides more flexibility.

“Counselors in the state are tied in as to what they can and cannot do. This gives more flexibility for that position,” Superintendent Alan Lumpkin said.

School counselors are only required in high schools, Lumpkin said, but having someone in the middle school is something the Board felt was necessary for the betterment of the students.

Rebecca Jones was approved as the new PRCMS Student Support Coordinator for the remainder of the 2016-17 school year.

In a separate matter, Burkett said the middle school is hosting its third Christmas morning celebration for the students. This event will take place in the middle school safe room on Thursday, Dec. 15, at 9 a.m. Employees of the district as well as community members are invited to attend.