An anonymous donor has pledged $44,000 to the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, which will allow the school to accept two more students for the next two academic years.
Administrators at MSMS did not identify the students but said they been next on an alternate list similar to a university waiting list. The anonymous donation brings the total number of students this coming academic year to 240.
Because funding from the state has remained level while costs of running the school have increased, MSMS has one of its smallest class sizes in years. The $22,000 donation, with another $22,000 promised for next year, has covered the additional students.
Executive Director Germain McConnell called both students personally to tell them they would be able to attend the school, said Wade Leonard, coordinator of alumni and public relations.
“We’re extremely happy these kids get to come to MSMS,” Leonard said.
Kelly Brown, director for academic affairs, has already received calls from both students asking about required reading and math prep which must be completed before the students’ move-in day and orientation on July 30. The students have also contacted Rick Smith, director for admissions and school advancement, and asked to write a letter of thanks to the donor. Leonard said neither of the students will know the donor’s identity.
Last year, an alumnus of the school donated $60,000 which paid for an additional three students, Leonard said. But this year’s donor was not an alumnus.
“It’s gratifying to know that people value the remarkable opportunity that is MSMS,” Leonard said.
In the past, the school has held closer to 275 students, Leonard previously told The Dispatch. But as costs rise and funding doesn’t, the number of students has declined, and several programs didn’t get the full funding they needed. Two of those programs include a new engineering program and a distance learning program, which will work with students from other schools in other parts of the state. Both programs are “a go,” Leonard said, but more funding is needed to sustain them in the future.
The legislature appropriates $4,495,000 for MSMS each year. But running a residential school costs more than running a regular school, Leonard said. Not only does MSMS have to have the lights on during the school day, but power has to be running constantly because the students live there. The school also has to provide meals, all while funding additional programs like the new engineering program, for which MSMS has partnered with Mississippi State University.
The two latest admissions whittle the MSMS alternate list to 21 students, all of whom Leonard said meet the academic requirements to attend the school. The MSMS Foundation, which raises money for the school, is trying to garner funds to enroll a third student from the alternate list, Leonard said. It needs an additional $10,000.
“The kids, every one of them, that are still on our list, are eager,” Smith said. “Several of them call our office weekly. They want to be here.”
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