A new policy to allow the general public to use outdoor facilities, such as batting cages, at Neshoba County Schools after school hours and on weekends was officially approved by the School Board last week following an earlier discussion.

The county school gate will be open for access on weekends from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will be closed at 8 p.m. on school days unless there is a scheduled event such as a baseball game, School Board members said.

The board approved for an assigned custodian to open and close the gate on Golf Course Road, being paid overtime per his/her usual rate of pay.

The gate will be closed during official school holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, when all personnel are off duty.

The gate will, however, be open during summer break.

Superintendent Tommy Dearing told the board that with the new policy, the school's liability insurance "might" go up.

He was adamant that this was only a possibility and not a foregone conclusion.

The new policy followed a Feb. 11 debate over allowing residents access to the campus facilities after hours and on weekends.

Near the end of that meeting, the newly elected District 4 board member Johnny Crenshaw asked about the possibility of leaving the gate open.

In a later interview, Crenshaw said parents were concerned about not having access to the school's batting cages.

"The gates haven't been shut for five years," he said, noting the main gate had been left open after it was damaged some years ago.

During the February meeting Crenshaw said in that time period no incidences were reported.

Board attorney Robert Thomas noted at that time that the school could be held libel if someone was hurt on campus.

For over half an hour the board debated the issue before deciding to draw up the new policy to be presented at the March meeting for final approval.

In other action, the school board purchased five new school buses.

Each bus costs $75,500 for a total of $377,500. This was less that the budgeted $390,000.

The board debated over getting air-conditioned buses but Dearing argued that doing so would set a precedent and could lead the board to purchasing more air-conditioned buses in the future.