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State Moves to Take Over Another School District

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 27 Sep 2012 04:35pm | comments
Superintendent James Covington addresses the commission.

The state of Mississippi is on the verge of taking over another school district.

The state school board voted unanimously yesterday to declare a state of emergency at the Oktibbeha County School District, and appoint a conservator to run the troubled district.

Paula Vanderford with the department of education says the district has been struggling for years, and is the only district in the state with a school that has been ranked 'F' or failing three years in a row.

The security and safety and educational interest has been jeopardized in the Oktibbeha County School district. Those findings were related to serious violations of accreditation standards and state law as well as a poor pattern of student performance," Vanderford said.

The board found the district in violation of 29 of 30 accreditation standards such as buses failing inspection and classrooms using power extension cords as a permanent source of electricity.

District Superintendent James Covington says the district is making progress, especially at the elementary school level where a school scored a 'B' for the first time.

"We have two new principals and they are instructionally driven and they are moving in the right direction. Some things are going right at the Oktibbeha County School District, just give us as district officials the opportunity to correct it," Covington said.

A conservator could take over the district as soon as Monday.

The state cannot take over the district until Governor Phil Bryant signs off on the state of emergency.

The Governor says he will 'certainly' sign the declaration, but is worried about the growing list of schools in conservatorship.

"At some point, I think those that resist the change that we have offered. Opportunities like paying teachers and compensating them for their ability. Not letting children out of the third grade until they can read. The resistance to that has to change. If you look at how many schools are failing, we cannot continue to stand by and let things go on as they always have. it is just not acceptable anymore," Bryant said.

If the state takes over, this will be the second time that the Oktibbeha County School district has come under conservatorship.

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Superintendent James Covington addresses the commission.


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