By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – Motorists can support the Tupelo Public School District with a new specialty car tag.
The license plate is now available and costs $31 in addition to assessed taxes. Of the additional cost, $24 goes directly to the school district’s general fund. The rest will be split by several funds, including the Mississippi Burn Care fund, the Highway fund, the Department of Revenue, Lee County and the Department of Archives and History, which will receive $1 or $2 each.
“It is a great fundraising tool for the school district,” said Lee County Tax Collector Leroy Belk, adding that any school district or legitimate civic organization can get such a tag.
To do so, they must gain approval from the Legislature and pre-sell 300 tags.
The Tupelo tag features the golden “T” with the wave logo on the left side. “Tupelo Public Schools” is written across the bottom. It was designed by former THS student Ross Waycaster.
The pre-sold tags arrived on Dec. 23, Belk said. Motorists can pick them up at the county tax collector’s office. Those who did not preregister also can buy the new tag when they renew theirs. They are available in all Mississippi counties, not just in Lee County.
“We are very excited about it,” said TPSD Assistant Superintendent Matthew Dillon. “When we took on this initiative, we got the community behind us and people in the schools to promote it. Without the community partners, we couldn’t have gotten this off the ground.”
The school district first tried to get a license plate about five years ago, but did not meet the pre-sale deadline.
A group of participants from the Jim Ingram Community Leadership Institute helped with this effort, as part of a group they formed – the GIFT Foundation, Getting Involved For Teachers.
“It shows the passion for the Tupelo Public School District,” said Robin Haire, who was part of the effort. “It shows pride in the Tupelo Public School District in having that car tag on your car.”
Nine businesses or organizations – B&B Concrete, Haire Wealth Management, Carlock Toyota, Room To Room Furniture, J&B Transportation, the CREATE Foundation, 1st American National Bank, Renasant Bank and Community Bank – purchased about 150 of them for TPSD staff members to help meet the deadline.
Tupelo is the only Northeast Mississippi school district with a specialty car tag, but it joins 12 other schools, districts and high school athletic programs with such plates. It includes South Panola, Rankin County Schools, the Pearl School District, Oak Grove Schools and Olive Branch High School, among others.