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Mamie Martin preschoolers demonstrate skills to school board

Photo by Alex Jacks/Mamie Martin Elementary school preschool students sang songs and demonstrated all they have learned this year to the Brookhaven School District Board of Directors this week.

Photo by Alex Jacks/Mamie Martin Elementary school preschool students sang songs and demonstrated all they have learned this year to the Brookhaven School District Board of Directors this week.

The Brookhaven School District Board of Directors kicked off its December meeting with Christmas cheer and a bunch of tiny smiling faces this week.

The 3- and 4-year-old Mamie Martin Elementary school preschool students sang several songs and demonstrated all they have learned so far this year.

Each teacher took the opportunity to explain the activities the students do every day.

The preschool program follows teh Mississippi Department of Education’s guidelines and is the only MDE-certified program in Lincoln County.

The program will allow educators to teach young students the reading skills they’ll need when they enter kindergarten and first grade so that they’ll be prepared to pass the state’s Gateway testing for third-graders.

Instructors look at the students’ progress at the beginning, middle and end of each nine-week period.

The voluntary program costs parents $200 per child per month. It was capped at 100 students enrolled.

The 3- and 4-year-olds identified and spelled their colors, identified numbers and letters and read to the boardroom.                    

“I know we took a little bit of time, but I wanted ever teacher to have a chance to show y’all what we do,” Mamie Martin Elementary principal Rob McCreary said to conclude the presentation. “I’m so proud of this. When we expanded this program, I thought, ‘Wow, this is going to be a big undertaking.’ But it has all been worth it because I have seen so much growth with these kids. It is unbelievable.”

The board thanked the room full of parents, teachers and students for informing them of the progress of the school and for sharing the evening with them.

Investment presentation

Alan Leach with Smith, Shellnut and Wilson, a registered investment advisor specializing in managing investment portfolios, presented the board with an investment proposal for the district.

“I’m here tonight with a proposal that you allow us to manage your money from 16th-section land to try to maximize the income that this district can achieve,” Leach said.

The firm specializes in investing funds for school districts across the state, he said.

By allowing Smith, Shellnut and Wilson to invest a portion of the school district’s money, Leach anticipates it will make an additional $150,000 a year, depending on interest rates.

That would allow Brookhaven School District to have $12,000 to $15,000 a month in extra income to spend on projects. The firm would only require a flat fee of $1,000 a month for the investment services.

Board member Pat Lowery raised the question of who would be liable if a bad investment was made. He was concerned about whether or not that would fall back on the five board members.

“We want to make the most money for the district while still being protected,” Lowery said. “I am good with moving forward if (Brookhaven School District Attorney) Mr. (Bob) Allen can confirm that we are not liable.” Superintendent Ray Carlock informed the board that he pulled a significant amount of research for each member to review regarding the proposal.

Allen said he would be combing the contract and proposal to ensure the board members are protected and the deal is legitimate and safe.

“I’ve got documents from different districts and different people who asked the opinion of the attorney general on this contract right here for you to look at,” Carlock said. “I think all that information and the added time between now and the next meeting should allow us to make an informed decision.”

The board agreed to consider the proposal and come to a decision about whether or not to pursue Smith, Shellnut and Wilson’s investment plan at the next board meeting on Jan. 24.

In other board business:

• The board accepted Glenn Smith’s bid of $511 for an agriculture lease for 17 acres of land in Section 16, Township 7N, Range 7E in Lincoln County.

• The board approved the financial reports, claims docket and fixed assets request for November 2016.

• The board approved a list of donations and fundraisers for various schools with the district.