July 31, 2014 9:55:09 AM
Oktibbeha County School District is again an accredited school system almost two years after a state takeover, but Conservator Margie Pulley will continue to run the district until 2015's consolidation.
The Mississippi Commission on School Accreditation granted OCSD its new status last week, Mississippi Department of Education spokesperson Jean Cook said, but the district will not form a new school board or seek a new superintendent as its merger with Starkville School District is scheduled in less than a year.
Gov. Phil Bryant ordered the district's takeover after the commission found OCSD in violation of about 30 standards in 2012. State lawmakers went to work in the subsequent 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions and crafted bills that would form a single, countywide school system on July 1, 2015.
Since the takeover dissolved the previous school board and ousted former Superintendent James Covington, two conservators -- Jayne Sargent and Margie Pulley -- have acted as OCSD's sole administrator.
Pulley served as a critical member of the Commission on Starkville Consolidated School District Structure, a local group formed by legislation and tasked with developing recommendations for the upcoming merger. She, along with others, routinely said the city, county and state must do what's best for children in order to make consolidation work.
As both systems approach the state-mandated unification date, the districts will continue their search for funding to renovate existing campuses. Mississippi State University, which was represented by David Shaw, the school's research and economic development vice president, previously committed to helping build a new two-grade middle school and pre-kindergarten facilities, but funding sources for the two projects have not yet been identified.
Pulley will also serve as an integral part of staffing prior to consolidation, as she will help recommend hires and transfers as the two districts merge.
Earlier this month, Pulley approved the county system's budget, which constitutes $65.69 million in combined expenses. OCSD will utilize 55 mills for operations, while Starkville School District's approved budget levies 65.24 mills for local revenue.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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