NASD footing bill for girls’ championship gold rings

Published 12:10 am Monday, April 14, 2014

NATCHEZ The Natchez High School girls’ basketball team will soon be sporting shiny gold rings to commemorate their Class 5A state championship thanks to the district’s board of trustees.

The NHS students were recognized Thursday at the district’s monthly board meeting, when Superintendent Frederick Hill announced each of the players’ names and asked them to come to the front of the Braden auditorium.

After the players received recognition from the board members through a handshake, Hill jokingly announced that a round of applause was all the district could offer the players.

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“Just kidding,” Hill told the players and board members.

Hill announced the district would be footing the more than $4,000 total bill for each of the players to receive a gold ring that would help commemorate the state championship game the team won March 14 against South Jones High School.

The money to pay for the rings, Hill said, would come from funds originally allocated in the district’s budget for superintendent and board travel.

The state department of education restricted those funds when Morgantown Middle School and Natchez High School entered their second year of receiving “F” ratings.

Part of state legislation passed in 2010 required MDE to administer the New Start School Program for schools that were failing for three consecutive years, beginning with the results from the 2009-2010 school year. The budgetary restrictions were implemented in the second year of “F” ratings, while a third year would have resulted in a state takeover of the schools.

Part of the legislation stated that superintendents and board members of schools with two consecutive “F” rating could only travel to events or conferences with state approval.

The district didn’t fall under the preview of the legislation until September when the results of the annual state tests were released, which was after the district had already adopted its budget.

NASD board of trustee president Tim Blalock said the money would be well spent if it helped recognize the students for winning the state championship.

“At least someone will get to use that money,” Blalock said.

Head coach Alphaka Moore said the players would have hosted a fundraiser to raise money to cover the cost of the rings.

“I appreciate that the district is going to pay for the rings, and I hope we will gain more support,” Moore said. “I am grateful.”

In other news from the meeting:

• The board approved a contract with for the pickup and disposal of outdated computer equipment, old desks and other items no longer used that district officials say is taking up valuable space at various schools.

Some of the items contain sensitive information and can’t simply be put out to the curb for trash pick up.

In the contract, the company ensures the district it will properly dispose of any computer equipment containing sensitive information.

Business manager Margaret Parson said the contract agreement wouldn’t result in the district receiving a significant amount of money, but that it would save the district money by not having to dispose of the equipment themselves.

“We got pennies on the dollar last time,” Parson said. “There’s no cost to the district in that we don’t have to worry as far as costs for landfills.”

• The board approved a contract to purchase 125 Macbook computers for Robert Lewis Magnet School.

The school was launched this year at the site of Robert Lewis Middle School and housed 125 sixth-grade students for the first year.

The school will expand next school year starting in August to include seventh and eighth-grade students.