Caresse Jackman

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Video: School District Leaders Pushing For Alternative School Location

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LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI)- Two weeks ago, the Lowndes County School Board rejected a proposal to move the district’s alternative school to West Lowndes Middle School. The move could save taxpayers money and possibly save a school. District administrators, like Superintendent Lynn Wright, haven’t given up on the idea and hope strategic planning and educating the public will change some minds.

“We feel like economically we could save our district a lot of money and we would be taking care of our own students. This facility is designed to house 500 students and could house that many. It would also enable us to utilize existing staff that we have and help keep them employed so we’d be able to utilize some good people that we don’t want to see lose their jobs and keep the facility open that’s a very well-kept, well-run facility out there,” said Wright.

The district currently pays the Columbus School District to provide alternative school services. Wright says moving it in-house would save $200,000 or more a year. Even more, because the school has less than 100 students and plenty of empty space, it could stop the State from ordering it to merge because of under use. West Lowndes High School Principal Charles Jackson was head of one of the first alternative schools in Mississippi and knows the benefits they can have for children.

“Some were able to catch up two years in one, some of them were able to go to school in a much more controlled environment and overcome those behavioral issues,” said Jackson.

He also says parents should not be worried.

“Now I know a lot of parents are concerned about being in close proximity to each other, but with the isolation and dividing doors and things of that nature, you can pretty much isolate the building from the other students that are on the same campus, but not in the same building,” said Jackson.

West Lowndes Middle School Principal Cynthia McMath thinks the District’s proposal to move into her building is a good idea.

“I am in support with my district for the alternative placement in my building. We do want to support & take care of our children as best as we can here at Lowndes County School District and especially here at West Lowndes Middle School,” said McMath.

Wright wants people to recognize the true reward that will come from the building is not just about money or location, but to help lead students to a brighter future.

“It’s not juvenile detention. These are kids that we want to salvage and try to help them. You know, they’ve made mistakes, but a lot of people do and we want to get them back into our regular school system as soon as possible and get them an education and make them productive members of society,” said Wright.

Earlier this month, a school board coalition between West Lowndes and Caledonia representatives blocked the move while voting for opting out of school uniforms.