According to the amended Senate Bill 2620 that passed the House Education Committee Tuesday, the Commission of Winona-Montgomery School District Structure would work to review "the current structure of the school districts and schools in Winona, Mississippi, and in Montgomery County, Mississippi, and make recommendations on future actions of the provision and transition of service of a possible administratively consolidated school district in order to improve both the quality of education and the efficiency with which it is delivered."
The commission must develop a plan and report to the state by September 30, 2015, which should consist of how to improve education, reduce wasteful administrative spending, and make the districts work more efficiently. The plan will also consist of an assessment of the "capital facility needs" of both school districts and "recommend methods of financing necessary improvements, including the possibility of pledging Mississippi Adequate Education Program funds for capital improvement purposes."
According to the amended bill, the commission will be made up of the a representative from the Mississippi Department of Education, who will serve as chairman of the commission; two representatives of the Montgomery County School District as appointed by the Board of Supervisors; three representatives of the Winona School District as appointed by Mayor Jerry Flowers; Winona Superintendent of Education Teresa Jackson; Montgomery County Superintendent of Education Michael Hood; Mayor Jerry Flowers; and one member of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors.
According to Representative Bobby Howell (R-Kilmichael), the amended bill will give local leaders the power to decide the future of the Winona Separate School District and the Montgomery County School District.
"[The amended bill] creates a study committee of how a consolidation could take place and make long-range recommendations to best suit Winona and Montgomery County schools," Howell said. "After it seemed like something was going to happen [on a statewide level to consolidate the districts], it was best to get our people involved in the future of our county and cities."
Howell said he has spoken with leaders of both school districts, and he worked with them in how to "devise the commission, how it would be formulated, and so forth."
Now that the bill has been approved by the House Education Committee, the bill will go to the House floor for debate.