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House passes Oktibbeha-Starkville school consolidation bill


Carl Smith



State Rep. Gary Chism, R-Columbus, confirmed the Mississippi House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that will consolidate the Oktibbeha County and Starkville schools into one school district by 2015. 


The bill now moves to the Miss. Senate. 


HB 716 was filed by state Rep. Toby Barker, R-Hattiesburg, and amended in the House Education Committee almost two weeks ago. If adopted by the full legislature, the bill would allow the current Starkville School District administration to remain in place during consolidation. 


"Nobody is jubilant about doing something like this. If your real focus is on the 800 kids (who attend Oktibbeha County School District), this was really the only solution we could have," Chism said. "We can't go back to the governance of the Oktibbeha County School District and expect different results. Hopefully we can continue to work through this process in the Senate and get this signed into law." 


Chism also said he hopes legislators can appropriate more funding for the consolidated school district. Barker's original bill called for five annual allocations of $200,000. If consolidated, the Starkville consolidated district would receive the county's MAEP allotment from the state, federal funds currently provided to the county and the county's ad valorem returns. 



Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch



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