By Ashley Conroy
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The Mississippi Commission on Educational Structure held a public forum at the capitol Monday to give parents and other citizens a chance to voice their opinion about school consolidation.
The commission was created by Governor Haley Barbour to recommend how school district consolidation could be achieved as well as the savings that would result from it.
As of now 18 school districts in the state are in the mix of possible consolidation.
One of those school districts, North Panola in northern Mississippi, is under conservatorship like Hazlehurst district for being consistently ranked as low-performing.
Parent Patsy Jackson traveled to this forum today from North Panola to speak in opposition to consolidation.
"When those schools close it causes an increase to the unemployment. People become impoverished because they have no jobs anymorem," said Jackson.
State Superintendent Dr. Tom Burnham said this isn't the case and that schools will not have to close their doors.
"Your not talking about closing schools, your not talking about taking away the community identity of schools, your simply talking about consolidating administrative functions," said Burnham.
Nancy Loom from the Parents' Campaign said they are not opposed to this measure, but have some concerns before it becomes imminent.
"We're concerned about the prospect of messing up good school districts that are doing a very good job at, and have worked really hard to bring their students up to a high level of achievement," said Loom.
Dr. Burnham said this is the main reason to hear what the public has to say before the commission makes any further consideration.
"That's what this commission is working on, at this point in time to say is consolidation a feasible alternative for education in Mississippi," said Burnham.
This consideration is all based on certain criteria the Education Commission has come up with.
For instance, a school district would have to have less than 2,000 students, and the district would have to be consistently ranked as low-performing.
The Education is meeting next Monday to go over what the public had to say Monday.
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