Bill Cheney

Bill Cheney from the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office gives the Greenwood Leflore Consolidated School Board Tuesday a primer on the leasing of 16th Section public school trust lands.

Greenwood High School football coach Clinton Gatewood will be getting a $4,500 increase in pay under a new coaching supplement scale adopted by the Greenwood Leflore Consolidated School Board.

Gatewood and the Bulldogs’ head basketball coach, Fredric Ford, will be drawing the largest annual supplements in the district at $11,500 each, up from $7,000 last year.

Under the new scale, which was approved Tuesday, the largest supplements will go to the basketball and football programs, with the amount of the supplement depending on the size of the school.

Gatewood heads a 4A program at Greenwood High. At Amanda Elzy High, a 3A school, the head football coach, Sheldon Hodge, will receive $10,500. At Leflore County High, a 1A school, coach Eric House will receive $8,500.

This is the first year of the merged district. When comparing its new coaching supplement scale to those paid in the former Greenwood School District, every coach will see an increase. In the so-called “non-revenue sports,” the supplements will range from $1,000 in golf to $2,500 in baseball.

Right up there with the football coaches will be the district mass band director, who will receive a $10,000 supplement.

As the school board adjusts to its countywide responsibilities, one issue on which it is trying to get up to speed is the leasing of 16th Section land, state-owned acreage that is set aside to provide a source of revenue for public schools. Prior to the merger, the Greenwood district had just 633 acres of 16th Section land under its control, and the Leflore County district had 12,518 acres.

The combined acreage now falls under the purview of the consolidated board, the majority of whose current members served previously on the Greenwood board.

The school board heard from Bill Cheney, an assistant secretary of state who specializes in public lands, as well as a vendor who is seeking to help the school district manage this responsibility.

Cheney told the board to follow common sense in awarding leases on 16th Section land used for agriculture, hunting or other types of recreation.

“The easiest thing,” Cheney said, “I can tell y’all in how you manage it is, Would I do this if it were my own land? ... If you won’t do it with your own land, why would you do it with the land for the schoolchildren?”

Mike Ainsworth made a pitch to serve as the district’s 16th Section land consultant. He said his company, Land Management Services in Madison, has been in business since 1993 and has currently 12 school districts under contract. He claimed to have helped these districts increase, in some cases astronomically, the amount of money they reap from 16th Section leases.

“I’ve taken over some school districts that were making 3,500 bucks a year; (now) they’re making $350,000,” he said.

Ainsworth charges $70 per hour for his services.

The board took no action on his proposal.

In other business:

• The board approved the purchase of two gasoline-engine school buses for $83,750 each from Waters Truck & Tractor Co., which is headquartered in Columbus.

The initial recommendation from the district’s staff was to purchase one gasoline-engine model and one diesel-engine model, but the board revised the plan after Talece Hudson, chief of transportation, spoke about the maintenance problems the district already has with 25 diesel-engine buses.

“We spend more money fixing our engines and rebuilding them than actually getting use out of the buses,” she said.

• Superintendent Mary Brown reported that within the next two weeks, the district will begin distributing almost 5,000 Chromebooks so that every student in the district will have one. Before the students receive them, their parents will have to attend an orientation session and pay a $15 insurance fee, she said. A couple of churches and other donors have donated money to help cover that cost for some students from single-parent, low-income households.

Contact Tim Kalich at 581-7243 or tkalich@gwcommonwealth.com.

The original version of this article incorrectly reported the classification of Leflore County High School and the amount of the supplement that its head football coach, Eric House, will receive.

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