School choice for military kids: What this means for local schools

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – A bill headed to Governor Tate Reeves’ desk could bring big changes for the children of active-duty military personnel stationed in Mississippi. House Bill 1341 is a military school choice bill.

“What it means is that any active duty military person at any base in the state of Mississippi can send their kids to any school that they want to, provided that the school can accommodate their kids and they can provide transportation themselves if they live outside the district,” said Colin Krieger, a realtor with Remax Partners in Columbus.

With Lowndes County being home to Columbus Air Force Base, it is also one of the areas that would be most impacted by the new law.

Every year, a large number of new families come to CAFB.

With any new law, there can be positives and negatives.

“The negative could be that certain school districts that don’t perform as high or don’t have as good a reputation may lose a few kids and even a few private schools may lose a few kids,” Krieger said. “On the positive side, they could buy a house anywhere they want.”

Lowndes County School Superintendent Dr. Sam Allison said school choice is a big consideration when moving, and he thinks this bill would be helpful for families.

“It’s an honor for us to serve our families that are in the military,” Allison said. “I think anything we can do or our state can do to make their transition a better transition or an easier transition, I’m in favor of that.”

Heritage Academy Headmaster, Sean Harrison, says his school has a good many students whose parents are in the military. He supports legislation that makes their lives easier.

“You know, I think it’s a good law,” Harrison said. “Allowing someone who is stationed here, it’s not necessarily their choice to come here, so I think it’s great for them to have a choice in schools.”

Krieger said this takes some pressure off of Military families in the state.

“When they’re serving our country and doing something good for all of us, in a neighborhood, they want to be in, and not necessarily have to spend as much time and energy focusing on a specific school district,” Krieger said.

WCBI also reached out to the Columbus Municipal School District, and they were not able to release a statement at the moment.

The bill is set to take effect July 1.

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