STARKVILLE, Miss.—The possibility of the Starkville School District and the failing Oktibbeha County School District having a merger in the future is getting closer.
A house bill was introduced at the end of last week by state representative Toby Baker calling for the merger.
“We’re looking at this very quickly without giving the involved school districts time to plan,” said a concerned Starkville School District Superintendent Dr. Lewis Holloway.
Oktibbeha County Schools have been habitually low-performing over the years and received a failing grade in the last year causing a conservator to be brought in from the state to run the district.
“We’re extremely leery of something that makes us look like we’re not succeeding,” he said.
And that’s one of the reasons Dr. Holloway talked about when listing reasons he wished this was not going to happen. He said there could be other ways around it.
“We’re using a very broad brush to push districts together instead of looking at individual specific need.”
That too could be a possibility when determining the ultimate decision of the two districts and several amendments are likely to be made to the bill before its final draft.
Another big question is who stays and who goes with the consolidated administration that would occur. It appears the SSD administrators would be the ones guiding the future consolidated district if the change was to happen but that’s not set in stone yet.
The SSD school board would remain in place for now if a few amendments are made, but in the future would be made up of four appointed-seats and one elected-seat.
Dr. Holloway said the economic impact of the merger would have to be considered also.
“Industry wants to come into places and cities where schools are succeeding.”
He was alluding that by consolidating the two districts it could give the short-term appearance of a mediocre future workforce because of the potential for OCSD to bring down testing scores.
“That’s our biggest concern is that they would bring us down.”
Dr. Holloway did say that he believes if the merger were to happen that each district would be able to keep their separate grades for at least five years while they got on their feet, and this could help that perception.
No zoning changes would be written up and all kids would still attend the same school they go to now.