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Poplarville School District no longer on district desegregation order

During Monday’s meeting, it was announced that the Poplarville School District has been removed from the list of federal desegregation orders and the Board of Trustees accepted grant funds and approved applying for additional grants.

During the evening, Superintendent Carl Merritt informed the Board that the District is no longer on the district desegregation order.

He said that the District was on the list due to a paperwork discrepancy that goes back four to five years, prior to any of the current Board members or administration being involved.

During a phone interview Monday morning, Merrill added that all districts across the nation are reviewed for desegregation compliance, which includes inspections of each district’s suspension rates, hiring practices and other criteria. No action was required on the matter.

In other matters, the Board approved a motion to accept a $1,000 donation from Walmart. Merritt said the money will be used to fund field trips as rewards for students with ideal attendance rates. Those rewards may include field trips to Pearl River Community College or the South Mississippi Branch Service Experiment Station in Poplarville.

The District’s gifted program has seen an increase in student participation. Shannon Anderson, the District Special Education Director said enrollment in the gifted program tends to fluctuate. Even if a child is eligible for the program, they may opt to not participate in order to have time for extracurricular activities such as sports or band, she said.

The Board allowed Anderson to apply for two grants for the District, one is called IDEA and a second will be for the preschool. The IDEA grant is expected to provide $432,000 worth of funding that will pay for the salaries of paraprofessionals, behavior assistants and psychiatric services, among other staff, for the entire District. She said that is a $16,000 increase, in part due to the increase in enrollment.

For the preschool, the grant will provide $15,000 to be used for teacher salary.

The next meeting will be Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. in the District office on Julia Street.