Mississippi has 148 school districts according to the Mississippi Department of Education.
With senate bill 2463, there could be one less.
The bill would merge administrations for the Chickasaw School District and the Houston Municipal School District.
According to the bill, on July 1, 2018, the Superintendent of Schools for the former Houston Municipal Separate School District will continue to serve in those duties while making sure the transition would go smoothly. The superintendent would remain in those duties for one year.
Once the administrative merger is completed, the former boards and administrations for the former separate districts would be abolished.
The bill doesn’t call for the closing of facilities, but the fear is that it could lead to that, according to Senator Russell Jolly.
“Once you get these school boards set up, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Jolly. “They could combine them later on.”
Jolly said this creates an issue with getting kids to the schools if facilities are closed.
“While it’s only 20 minutes from the Chickasaw school district office to the Houston school district office, the schools are on the outer boundaries of the area,” said Jolly. “That’s a long, long bus ride.”
Senator Jolly said he was confused by the merger of Chickasaw and Houston schools.
“Okolona is the one having problems,” said Jolly. “It’s an ‘F’ rated school. Chickasaw and Houston are both ‘C’ schools. They’re doing okay.”
Jolly said he’d support a consolidation with Okolona involved, because it would deter a state takeover of the district, which is imminent since it is a failing district.
“Combining the other two (Chickasaw and Houston) would make sense if it would save any money,” said Jolly. “But this would just cost money down the road.”
News Mississippi reached out to Superintendent Dr. Betsy Collums of the Chickasaw County School District, Superintendent Dr. Tony Cook of the Houston Municipal School District, and Senator Grey Tollison who authored the bill and is awaiting a response.