FLORA, Miss. (WLBT) – Will the lack of funding lead to the closure of a Madison County middle school?
It's something school board members are considering, but Flora parents and city leaders hope it doesn't happen.
They met Tuesday night to talk about their options.
Flora's mayor and Board of Aldermen gathered at city hall, one day after Madison County School Board members discussed closing East Flora Middle School to save money.
Approximately 147 students are enrolled at the middle school with about 15 teachers on staff.
Parents and city leaders object to the plan.
They said they lost their high school in 1991 and don't want their children bused the 12 miles to school in Madison.
"Seems like everything is trying to move to Madison. It's gonna hurt our businesses. It's gonna hurt a lot of families. A lot of tradition is over there at that school. We just want to try to pull together if at all possible to try to do something about this," said Rodrick Spencer, the parent of a sixth grader at the school.
"Without school there is no growth. We want our school in Flora. We're trying to save it, and if its anything that the flora community can do to save our school hopefully we will do it," said concerned parent Tiffany Valentine.
Flora Mayor Leslie Childress said shutting down the school would place a hardship on the town and patrons in the surrounding area.
"We need our middle school here. Our community needs it and what we're trying to do we're looking at all the options working with the school board and the problem is the funding through the legislature. Budgets are tight," said Mayor Childress.
According to Madison County School Superintendent Mike Kent, twice as much money is spent on students at Flora Middle School than others in the district.
He said the middle school is under performing and listed as 'at risk of failing' by state accreditation ratings.
"The school has only 147 students with expenditures per student of $14,000.00. The average per pupil expenditure is $7,700.00. It costs about $1 million dollars annually to operate," said Kent.
The East Flora PTA is encouraging parents to rally and fight the closure.
The mayor told residents attending the Board of Aldermen meeting that a letter will be sent to the legislature requesting help with the budget.
Despite the request, Childress said current projections indicate a 10% decrease from last year's funding.
The Madison County School Board will hold a public hearing on the possible closure during their February 7th regular meeting.
The East Flora Middle School PTA will meet Thursday at 6:00 p.m. in the school gym.
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