Methodist church makes gift to Vicksburg schools

By Jef Rietsma

Vicksburg United Methodist Church was recognized by Vicksburg Community Schools Board of Education for a significant financial gift to the district.

Superintendent Keevin O’Neill made the acknowledgment at the onset of the Sept. 13 board meeting. The announcement was met with a round of applause from audience and board members.

“I want to send a big thank you to the Vicksburg United Methodist Church, (as) the congregation, their foundation, donated $16,000 to our VCS elementary schools for teacher classroom supplies,” he said. “Thank you, VUMC, for this incredible gift that is so appreciated.”

VUMC Pastor Greg Culver said the church had the good fortune of being in a sound financial state. He said the $16,000 came from interest in the church’s endowment.

“Even during the pandemic, the stock market has done very well and our investments, which are through the United Methodist Foundation, have given a good return,” he said. “It’s been a hard year for teachers and we thought that with the stress teachers are under – we all know they pay out of their own pocket for school supplies – we just thought it would be a good boost for their morale.”

Culver said the church has had a longstanding relationship through the “Kids Hope” program with Tobey Elementary, so the opportunity to help all three of the district’s elementary school teachers was a logical next step.

He called the gift “a way to partner with the community and a way to maximize the opportunity” to positively impact students and their families.

“The companies that we’re invested in, that we got such strong results from, are ethical companies; that’s something to feel good about.”

He said there were no strings attached to the donation, which were earmarked to teachers at the Tobey, Indian Lake and Sunset Lake elementaries.

In a separate matter during the district’s September meeting, O’Neill said the district has upped the stakes in its effort to secure substitute teachers. He said daily, full-day and half-day rates have been raised from $75 to $85, and $45 to $55, respectively.

Long-term subs are paid $100 a day and $50 per half day, also a $10 increase.

There’s also an incentive for retired teachers. O’Neill said those rates are $85 full day and $55 half day. Retired teachers, however, are not eligible for long-term pay.

A newly created program pays substitutes a $100 bonus for 10 subbing jobs within the district in a month, $225 for 15 different jobs within a month and $400 for 20 or more different sub jobs in a month. Long-term subs do not qualify for the bonus pay, O’Neill said.

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