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Bryant signs bill forcing Sunflower school merger

JACKSON — Sunflower County will have only one school district starting in July 2014, under a law signed by Gov. Phil Bryant Thursday.

Senate Bill 2330 requires merging the Indianola, Drew and Sunflower County districts, all currently under state control. The bill does not require closing any current schools, although residents have said they fear that result. The districts have more than 4,300 students.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who pushed the law, said it would save money and provide better education.

A countywide school board would be elected in November 2013. No previous board member from the three predecessor districts could run. The new school board would appoint a superintendent.

A similar measure to consolidate Bolivar County’s six districts into three or fewer has fizzled so far in this legislative session.

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  1. I was not aware of this measure, but I support it and similar measures. There are too many school districts that need to merge and if they are unwilling to do so, then the legislature should step in. The cost savings can be tremendous. Also, if schools need to be closed, then close them.

    I have done the research and it’s not lack of money in education that is the issue. If anything, it’s too much money. The legislature should also require full cost disclosures from all school districts. Research shows that the actual costs provided by school districts is usually half or less of the reported costs. School districts often don’t include bond costs, costs of all support personnel, etc. More people would be up in arms if they saw the true cost/student.

    Smaller class sizes are not the issue since they have been shrinking for a while and student scores have been getting continual worse. Why can other industrial countries have much larger class sizes, much smaller per student costs (that use the actual total costs), and much better test scores? If smaller class sizes worked, then their numbers should be worse and ours better.

    I have at least one state where the recommendation was to consolidate up to 1/2 of the school districts, but that state’s legislature didn’t have the courage to do so. I’m not advocating that Mississippi adopt that large a percentage, but consolidation needs to be on the table for all school districts which includes closing schools that need to be closed.

    Also, school districts need to use bond issues as a last resort and live within their means. I’ve seen school districts push for, and get passed, numerous bond issues on the claim it’s only a small property tax increase. Those tax increases add up fast and don’t take into account other property tax increases (city, county, etc.) that have been passed, or are in the process of being passed. Worse, school districts may put on the ballot, within pretty liberal guidelines, numerous times until they get it approved, or they put it on the ballot when they know few people vote.

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