JPS extends contract with company despite grant error

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Despite a missed deadline that resulted in a lost opportunity for federal grants, the Jackson Public School District will continue to work with a contractor they blamed for the mistake. No additional JPS funds will be spent.

JPS was one of several districts that failed to apply for school improvement grants (SIG) earlier this year. Interim Superintendent Freddrick Murray said the district intended to submit applications for three of its schools but missed the May 8 deadline.

At the time, district spokesperson Sherwin Johnson told Mississippi Today that contractor Tri-K Group “made some late changes to the grant that led to the district missing the required deadline” but the district would continue working with them to submit future applications later this year.

At a Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night, the board voted to extend the contract with Tri-K to help the district submit a SIG grant application for four schools by Aug. 24. District counsel JoAnne Nelson Shepherd said Tri-K’s contract with the district ended June 30.

The company will not receive any additional funds for their work, but should the district receive the SIG grant funding Tri-K will earn three percent commission, as the original contract stated.

Johnson said the SIG grants are for Timberlawn Elementary School, Siwell Academy of Leadership, Callaway High School and Forest Hill High School.

Executive director of school improvement William Merritt said the district already submitted six STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) grants to multiple funders on June 30.