by Hunter Dawkins

With the last meeting of January on Monday at the Henry Arledge Harrison County School District Building in Gulfport, the Harrison County School Board approved three measures and 22 consent items.  Before authorizing these, a few public comments were made plus a check of just over $2200 was given to the North Gulfport Middle School administration by the community civic club.

Jason Smith, a representative of the West Harrison Baseball Civic Club, mentioned to the Harrison County School Board a continuing problem with the nets and bleachers between the softball and baseball fields at the high school.  Harrison County Superintendent Roy Gill expressed a confusion about fixing the nets, but stating that he had not heard about raising the bleachers.

The other comment came from Matt McCree, who raised the question about school textbooks.  As a parent of a student at North Gulfport Middle School, McCree asked why textbooks were not allowed home for him to check on his child’s knowledge.  Superintendent Gill suggested that he would speak to the North Gulfport administration about the matter.

Due to the potential issues from the American Disability Association (ADA), Harrison County School District architect Marty Hardy believed this idea needed more review.  Following Hardy’s statement, Harrison County School Board President David Ladner spoke of the extreme liability concerns with raising the bleachers, even though he acknowledge the net problems from being a former parent in the West Harrison Booster Club.

Harrison County Federal Programs Director Melissa Garrison delivered two presentations of the 2019 Fiscal Year Comprehensive Plan Application and January updates for the Additional Targeted Support and Improvements (ATSI) for four schools in the district.  Garrison stated these schools received $300,000, even though the Title 3 plan was not released.  Along with these figures, the benchmark scores were not completed.  After Garrison addressed the board, the fiscal year plan was unanimously accepted.

Of the 22 items on the consent agenda, two were examined by the board before approval.  The first was accepting a $500 donation from a citizen in the Lizana community to cover outstanding cafeteria balances for students at the Lizana Elementary.  Ladner asked if this was due to government shutdown and the administration officials said there was no clear indication.  The other discussed travel concerns by a high school athletic team.

Finally, the school board decided on the 48 discipline committee decisions brought up.  Board member Bill Bradley passionately conveyed that of these disciplinary matters, nine were recommended expulsion, and there needs to be a solution to stop this action.  Ladner responded by saying these students had all the chances in the world.

School Board Member Dr. Barbara Thomas mentioned the need for alternative solutions to expulsion, even though she agreed with Ladner on the opportunity given.

Before recess, Bradley said there was some state legislation on this matter involving community service.