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School Consolidation Bill Passes Senate

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 08 Feb 2012 04:33pm | comments
Senator Gray Tollison addresses the Senate.

Three school districts in a Delta county could become one under a bill approved by the Mississippi Senate. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that Senators approved a school district consolidation bill after an hour of debate yesterday.

The bill targets the three districts in Sunflower County.... Indianola, Sunflower County, and Drew...which are all currently being run by the state because of their record of poor academic achievement.

Senator Gray Tollison of Oxford brought a bill to the floor to roll all three districts into one, which he says would save one million dollars in administrative costs and improve educational outcomes.

"Efficiency in our school districts is important. When it comes to the point that is has been taken over by the state and you have all three that are failing, then we have got to try something different," Tollison said during debate.

There are 152 school districts across Mississippi 82 counties.

State Senator David Jordan of Greenwood, who was one of just four senators to vote against the bill, pressed Senator Tollison about the benefits of saving administrative cost if that money does not go back to the classroom.

"You mention that it will save 1.2-million dollars. Will that 1.2-million dollars be put back in the school system?" Jordan asked.

"That is district maintenance funds and that is up to that new school board to make that determination," Tollison replied.

"If not, then where will it go?" Jordan said.

"Well, they could lower the millage rate and people will get a tax cut in Sunflower County," Tollison replied.

Sunflower County has an unemployment rate over 16-percent and the school system is the single largest employer.

Senator John Hohrn of Jackson, who voted for the bill, worries that the bill could lead to school consolidation and potentially job losses.

"In the estimate of the 1.2-million dollar savings, is there any anticipation of school closure?" Hohrn asked.

"I can't answer that question because I think that is up to the conservator, the new elected county board of education and the state department of education to get into those issues," Tollison said.

The bill now moves to the House for further consideration.

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Senator Gray Tollison addresses the Senate.


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