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Holloway: Better to negotiate merger bill now than later


Superintendent Dr. Lewis Holloway

Superintendent Dr. Lewis Holloway



Carl Smith



Starkville School District Superintendent Lewis Holloway told public stakeholders Thursday it is better to negotiate a school merger bill now than have a future measure without local input, according to unofficial strategic planning session minutes released by the district. 


SSD officials are sending legislators two key messages in reference to HB 716, the proposed Oktibbeha-Starkville school merger: Give the proposed seven-member merger study group more time to research and discuss the issue before being required to submit a report by Jan. 1, 2014 and add more Starkville representation to the committee. 


"We feel it is better to negotiate the bill now rather than have it die, because next year the legislature may pass a bill without our input," the meeting's unofficial minutes state. 


Questions also remain about the city's and county's tax differences and the bill's need for Department of Justice approval. 


This legislative session, the House and Senate moved forward two different versions of the school merger bill. The House chose not to concur with the Senate's version, and both groups are currently organizing a conference committee to iron out the differences. 


Holloway was unavailable for comments Saturday. His comments came during the district's third strategic planning session at the Hilton Garden Inn. 


Stakeholders Thursday discussed the district's continuing process of defining its mission, vision and values. 


Suggestions for mission statements included having every student college or career ready through a rigorous and relevant education. Values, stakeholders suggested, should include explicitly stating the district's responsibility for providing a quality education in a safe learning environment and maintaining positive relationships. The district's vision should state quality public education  


District officials and stakeholders also reviewed eight strategic goals and made additions, deletions and clarifications. 


Those goals include accelerating academic achievement and closing achievement gaps so every student graduates college- or career-ready; hiring quality instructors to deliver premier public education; internal and external collaboration; fostering pride, trust and respect; ensuring performance includes not only academic success, but also upstanding behavior; formulating a districtwide technology plan that ensures parents and families have access to state-of-the-art technology; demonstrating aesthetic district upkeep to build strong first impressions; and spreading the word about SSD's strengths through a group of stakeholders dedicated to the district and public education. 


The strategic planning team will meet again in late May to finalize the district's mission, vision, values and goals. 



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



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