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Supervisors support helping fund Leader In Me

The Warren County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 during their regular Monday meeting to adopt a resolution that would help the Chamber of Commerce in their support of the Leader In Me initiative, which has been used with great success within the Vicksburg Warren School District.

According to Jimmy Gouras with the private Economic Development Foundation, the Legislature agreed to provide $100,000 over a four-year period to help fund Leader In Me as a pilot program for the rest of the state due to the success rate in the VWSD.

“As I understand it, the funds did come from the state for the first two years,” Gouras told the supervisors during their regular Monday morning meeting. “This year, the funds did not and we do not expect the funds will come from the state next year. So there’s a $100,000 shortfall.”

Gouras approached the board about adopting a resolution to request local and private legislation from the Legislature authorizing the board of supervisors to contribute funds at its discretion to the VWSD Leader In Me program.

Gouras said the $100,000 would be a one-time contribution from the supervisors.

The chamber of commerce has an agreement to help fund Leader In Me in the VWSD elementary schools and middle schools, while the school district funds Leader In Me in both high schools and River City Early College.

Successful program

The Leader in Me program was established by the Vicksburg Warren County Chamber of Commerce through a community foundation and is currently managed by the school district, according to Gouras.

Initially, $400,000 was raised to implement Leader In Me in Bowmar, Bovina, Redwood, Dana Road and Beechwood elementary schools. Every VWSD school now has the Leader In Me initiative.

Every school that has been in the program for at least three years has shown at least one level of improvement

“The Leader In Me program has proven to be a great success in our school district,” Gouras said. “I, for one, believe that as our schools go, so go our community. And I think it’s important that we support this program.”

Supervisors William Banks and John Arnold both questioned Gouras about funding Leader In Me.

Banks asked if the program was so successful, why didn’t the school district request this funding from the supervisors in their budget?

“I can’t speak for the school district, but I would surmise that it was anticipated the state was going to provide the funding,” Gouras said.

Arnold said he’s not against Leader In Me and believes it’s a great program, but “I’m not in favor of putting the tax burden on the citizens when there is funding right now sitting in the school system that they could easily cover this.”

Supervisor John Carlisle made a motion to adopt the resolution and Charles Selmon seconded the motion. Banks and Arnold both voted against the resolution, while Carlisle and Selmon voted in favor. Board President Richard George voted in favor to break the 2-2 tie.

Christi Kilroy, spokesperson for the school district, said, “The school district is grateful the county board of supervisors sees the value of the Leader In Me and that they are supporting the Chamber in raising funds for the initiative. Leader In Me touches every student in the district and does much to forward our goal of graduating every student college, career and life prepared.”