OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Facing tight budgets, Coast schools are banking on a new partnership to raise some much-needed money. This week, the Ocean Springs School District rolled out its own debit card.
The Blue-Grey Pride Band is tuning up for a weekend competition. But, when it comes to the band members' uniforms, their pride hits a sour note.
"They just look old and ratty. They've collected dust forever," said Will Frye, Ocean Springs High Lead Drum Major.
The 15-year-old uniforms have frayed cuffs, holes, and zippers that sometimes don't work.
"It feels pretty terrible. It's like, we're a band that almost competes with the top bands in the state, but, we have the worst uniforms among any of those," said Frye.
"This summer, we had a parent crew that came and did extensive work on the uniforms, just trying to get us through the season so they would be tolerable, be presentable," said Ocean Springs High Band Director Dr. Mohamad Schuman.
With no money in its budget to replace the uniforms, the Ocean Springs School District teamed-up with Merchants & Marine Bank to create the Greyhound debit card. Anyone who opens a checking account at M&M Bank can ask for the custom card. Once they pay the $10 fee, $5 will go to the school district. And every two years, the $5 renewal fee will also go to Ocean Springs Schools.
"I think it's great! That's why I hope other people, other banks will also follow suit. I'm very grateful for them," said Schuman.
The debit card program seems to be generating a lot of interest among schools across Jackson County.
"It's just a great way on a local level to support your school, get excited, spark a little competition amongst the communities and we're happy to be involved," said M&M Bank Vice-President Matt Perez.
The OSHS band hopes to raise at least $120,000 to invest in 300 new uniforms for next season.
"Oh, that would be awesome! We'd probably be up there with the top three, top two in the country. We would look and sound great," said Frye.
Every public school district in Jackson County and Resurrection Catholic School in Pascagoula are participating in the debit card program with M&M Bank. The Pascagoula-Gautier School District recently approved the partnership. Each district determines how the money raised will be spent.