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PRC School Board holds special meeting

The Pearl River School District’s Board of Trustees met Thursday evening for a called meeting to discuss various topics.

The first item on the agenda was to approve administrative leave for all full time employees on August 24, 2020.

The Board approved the motion unanimously. This decision was made because the schools were closed Monday due to possible severe weather from incoming tropical storms Laura and Marco.

It was necessary for the board to approve the motion for all staff so the district personnel’s Aug. 31 paycheck would not be affected.

Following that motion, the Board discussed the Equity in Distance Learning Grant and what it entailed.

Superintendent Alan Lumpkin said the grant was part of the CARES Act funding from the Mississippi Department of Education to help deal with the financial stresses of adapting classes to meet COVID-19 guidelines.

The grant can be used for technology infrastructure, and the district is planning on using the funds to purchase 4,000 Chromebooks for its students.

The district is receiving approximately $1.1 million from the grant, but there are some matching funds required from the district.

The district’s business manager TJ Burleson said the district would need to add $573,000 in matching funds, which would bring the total available funds up to $1.688 million.

The 4,000 Chromebooks would allow for each student in the district to have one, while putting three extra Chromebooks in each classroom in case a student forgot their device at home.

The district is in its fourth and final year of the current Chromebook lease it has, which costs the district $231,000 a year.

The new funds would have to come from the district’s reserves to pay the $573,00 up front fee, but over the following years the district would save money by not having to pay the $231,000 yearly payment.

The grant states the district would have to use the Chromebooks for three years, and during those three years the district would be able to recoup over $600,000 by not having to pay the fee from the original lease agreement.

This in turn would cover the initial $573,000 investment.

The application is due Sept. 1 and Lumpkin said the district is moving forward with the grant application at this time. The discussion was held so the Board members understand what the grant entailed, and so in future meetings the Board members understand how the grant would affect the district’s budget.

Following the discussion the Board adjourned.

The next regularly scheduled meeting will take place Sept. 10 at 5:30 p.m.