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Consolidation bill passes Senate Committee
by Amanda Sexton Ferguson, Editor and Publisher
Feb 06, 2014 | 156 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
JACKSON - A Mississippi Senate bill proposing the administrative consolidation of Winona Separate School District and Montgomery County School District has passed the Senate's Education Committee and was presented on the Senate floor Wednesday.

Originally, Senate Bill 2620, authored by Gray Tollison (R-Oxford), chairman of the Senate Education Committee, included Carroll County Schools in its consolidation plans, but Carroll County has been dropped from the measure.

According to a clerk in the Senate's Docket Room, the amended bill passed the Education Committee and was added to the Senate calendar for Wednesday as number 170. Wednesday's session of the Mississippi Senate was still ongoing at press time.

The Mississippi House of Representatives Bill 760 which included the consolidation of Winona and Montgomery County Schools along with the consolidation of the Okolona Separate School District with the Chickasaw County School District; the Hazelhurst City School District with the Copiah County School District; the East Jasper School District with the West Jasper School District; Amory School District with the Aberdeen School District; East Tallahatchie Consolidated School District with the West Tallahatchie School District; the Leland School District with the Hollandale School District and the Western Line School District; the Coffeeville School District with the Water Valley School District; the North Panola School District with the South Panola School District; and the Clarksdale Municipal School District with the Coahoma County School District.

According to Representative Bobby Howell (R-Kilmichael), that bill was amended to only include the consolidation of the Clarksdale Municipal School District and the Coahoma County School District. The other proposed consolidations were dropped from the measure, including Winona Separate School District and Montgomery County School District.

"It did not report out of [the House Education Committee]," Howell said.

However, if the Senate Bill 2620 passes a senate vote, it will be sent to the house for consideration.

SB 2620 proposes an administrative consolidation of the two school districts with a central administrative office to be located in Winona.

"Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the closing of any school or school facility, unless the facility is an unneeded administrative office located within the school district."

The bill proposes the election of five trustees to serve on a board of trustees in a November 14, 2014, special election, and the Mississippi Board of Education will determine boundary lines of the new district and boundary lines for each trustee district.

All real and personal property of each district should be transferred to the newly created Montgomery-Winona Consolidated School District.

As for the district's leadership, the bill proposes that the district's board of trustees will appoint a superintendent, and there will be a limit of three assistant superintendents in the district.

In addition, the bill states that no superintendent serving in a school district designated as an under-performing school district or that is under conservatorship shall be eligible for appointment as a superintendent or assistant superintendent. The same rules apply to the board of trustees when seeking a new board seat.

In addition, if the bill passes, the Department of Education will grant a three year waiver of accountability and assessment requirements to the newly-formed district.

School leaders from both school districts have spoken out against the proposed consolidation.
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