Commission considers school district consolidation - - Jackson, MS

Commission considers school district consolidation

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By  Julie Straw - bio | email | twitter

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Governor Haley Barbour brought together education professionals, legislators and business leaders to construct the Commission on Mississippi Educational Structure.

"Many think 152 school districts is entirely too many for a state of our size and if there's a reduction in administrative costs than maybe we could put more money in the classroom," said State Senator Doug Davis, (R)-DeSoto.

In this third in a series of meetings consultants analyzed data and came up with three criteria to decide which districts should be chosen for consolidation.  Currently 14 districts fit the criteria of low enrollment, low student performance and high district administration spending.  Is consolidation right for Mississippi?

"Our data suggests that it is in certain places and that you can't use a simplistic approach like they have in other states. We think you should have something a little more sophisticated," said consultant Dr. John Augenblick, with Augenblick, Palaich and Associates.

When the meetings conclude the commission's recommendations will be presented to the governor.  Members admit if the state chooses to consolidate school districts that leads to another line of questions that are not easy to answer.

"We've all known that from the beginning. Who is going to be on the school board? Where the attendance zone is going to be? Are you going to close the schools or actually going to consolidate the districts?" said Representative Cecil Brown, (R)-Hinds.

The commission's final recommendations are due April 1. There is one more scheduled meeting this month, but members say they will likely have to come together before that.

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