Video: Parents Voice Their Concerns To School District
Starkville, Miss. (WCBI) — The Starkville Oktibbeha Consolidated School District held a meeting Thursday night giving East Elementary parents the chance to voice their concerns about the school board’s proposed plan to the Department of Justice regarding desegregation.
In the school board’s plan, East Elementary will close, and become the county’s alternative school. Superintendent Dr. Lewis Holloway said that in both the school board plan and all the DOJ’s proposed plans, East Elementary would close. Holloway said the in the DOJ’s report on racial diversity in the district, it found that the elementary school’s population was “around ninety-six percent black”, which raised concerns.
The Department of Justice’s full report will be presented during a special called meeting of the SOCSD Board of Trustees on Tuesday, February 23, at 6 pm.
“We had hoped to leave [East Elementary] here as it is because its been here as it is because its been here for thirty years…”, said Holloway, “…we spent $1.5 million renovating this building that we wouldn’t have spent had we known this. We spent another $700,000 on technology and curriculum…that doesn’t feel well, because we are wasting resources that are scare…”
The proposed plan will impact all elementary schools in the area. The plan, which Holloway said the board is “optimistic” it will pass, would send rising fifth graders will now attend Overstreet Elementary and rising second graders will be moved to Henderson Ward Stewart Elementary.
Suddeth Elementary will now become a kindergarten and first grade school, while Henderson Ward Stewart would become a second through fourth grade school.
“We’re going to end up moving virtually every teacher in the district, kindergarten through fifth grade…”, said Holloway, “…and that’s not easily done.”
Parents in attendance had concerns about bus routes, what the move means for educating their children, and about the well being of the teachers and staff at East Elementary who made be without a job, if the proposal passes.
While Holloway understands the concerns parents have, he said the proposal the board is presenting puts consolidation into the hands of the Starkville Oktibbeha Consolidated School District, not the D.O.J.
Holloway also said the he is optimistic this consolidation plan would work as well as the consolidation of the sixth through twelfth grades.
“You can’t tell who is a county student or a Starkville student”, said the Superintendent, “…they’re on the football team, they’re cheerleaders, they’re in drama, they’re in chorus, and so it’s working out well for the students and I truly believe, in the end, this will work out well for the students.”
Even if the Justice Department approves the school board’s proposal, it still must be approved by a federal judge.
If passed, the SOCSD proposal would take into effect August 2016.
The school board will meet with all of the elementary schools impacted by the possible consolidation, and will meet with parents and staff of Suddeth Elementary this upcoming Monday, February 22nd.