Caresse Jackman

About Caresse Jackman

Video: Starkville and Oktibbeha County Commission Discuss Consolidation Proposals

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)- The committee overseeing the state-mandated merger of the Starkville and Oktibbeha County school districts is hammering out its final recommendations.

Starkville and Oktibbeha County commission members talked via telephone about their proposed plans for consolidating their schools into one district. Right now, one of their long-term plans is to maintain all the existing elementary schools. But others will likely see big changes.

“The elementary schools K-6 would all remain the same with the same zones because they’re all successful and it doesn’t make a lot of sense, in my mind that’s me speaking, not the commission to change that. We think we have the capacity at Starkville High School to bring the county in at it’s current numbers. Our problem is what to do with 7th and 8th grade because we don’t have the capacity to bring them in,” said Holloway.

The commission originally hoped some surrounding counties might take some students, easing some transitions. But questions about funding and transportation basically have ruled that out. That leaves what to do with seventh and eighth graders. That’s where juggling and money come in. One idea is to reopen Oversteet temporarily for Starkville sixth graders and moving all seventh and eighth graders to Armstrong. A new middle school would be built to open in late 2016.

“I think Overstreet is a very viable short-term plan. I don’t want our 6th graders to be there for long-term because it’s a very old facility and it’s limited in size and what we can do educationally is also limited in transportation and parent pick up.I think the unanswered question or the elephant that’s in the room is where is this money going to come from?” said Holloway.

Because the Legislature forced the merger, the community hopes it’ll help pay for a new school. That could cost as much as $20 million.

Officials say they’ll present their plans at a public hearing next week.

That hearing is Thursday, November 7th at 6pm at the Greensboro Center. Parents will be able to ask questions and the plans will be posted on the Web for review and comment.

The committee has to make a recommendation to the Legislature early next year. Consolidation goes into effect July 2015.