New Long Beach school short on funds for playground, pavilion, parking

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - When students at Harper McCaughan Elementary move to their new school on Pineville Road, their playground equipment won't go with them. That's because it would cost too much to disassemble the equipment and reinstall it at the new campus.

To purchase a new playground, Long Beach school leaders are turning to a federal grant that's dedicated to storm recovery.

"We've never applied for it before," said Long Beach School Superintendent Carrolyn Hamilton.  "It is a Katrina Supplemental Community Development Block Grant, and we thought it doesn't hurt to apply.  We're trying to apply for the funds to finish off the school for some things that we could not do."

The grant request is for $1.5 million.  It would also pay for landscaping, pavilions, and sidewalks.

"A sidewalk to connect our drive from Pineville to Commission for our children to have a safe place to walk to get to school, and for extra parking for events," said Hamilton.

Hamilton said these extra projects are not covered by FEMA.

"This is not budgeted," she said.  "It would have to come out of our local funds and we just don't have those funds available."

The school district currently faces a $471,000 shortfall in ad valorem collections.  It can't ask for a property tax increase, because the district has already reached its max of 55 mills.  That's why the superintendent is hoping this federal grant will come through.

"Without this, we will not be able to put in the playground, the sidewalks, those types of things at the school.  And it's needed to finish off the school," Hamilton said.

The school district will hold a public hearing to seek input on its application for the CDBG funds. The hearing is Monday, September 28th.  It starts at 7:00 PM at the Long Beach School District Central Office on Commission Road.

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