AUTHOR: MONIQU

HED:Lee board to discontinue Plantersville School after-hours program

By Monique Harrison

Daily Journal

The Lee County School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to discontinue a Plantersville School after-hours program that serves about seven students, effective at the end of this school year.

Plantersville Principal Kenneth Jones said participation in the program at the K-8 school has dwindled, with about seven students currently being served. At the beginning of the school year, about 12 youngsters participated.

"We want to give folks time to make other arrangements for after-school care," said Board President Ronnie Robison.

Officials said the program was also being dismantled because some parents participating in the program have repeatedly failed to pick their children up on time.

"The principal or a teacher is having to stay at the school until after seven o'clock some days," said Superintendent Lynn Lindsey. "Parents have been told they need to pick their children up by six, but they are ignoring that. It's putting a real burden on the school."

The 3-year-old program operated from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on school days. Students worked on homework, were served snacks and participated in indoor and outdoor playtime during the program.

Students were required to pay tuition to attend the after-school program, with charges based on a sliding scale, allowing poor families to pay less.

Plantersville is the only Lee County school currently operating an after-school program, officials said.

Earlier this school year, Tupelo Public Schools officials abruptly discontinued an after-school program at Church Street Elementary. The decision was made after officials expressed concern about laws prohibiting public schools from competing with private day-care centers.

In other business, the board voted to purchase eight new school buses, at a total cost of $337,057. Five of the buses will be 65-passenger buses; three will hold 77 students each.

The new buses will include an AM/FM radio, which will be installed at no cost to the district.

"I think the radio will help keep some of the students quiet," said Director of Transportation Ralph Capps. "If we turn the radio on low, maybe they will be quiet and listen to it."

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