February 21, 2013 10:06:41 AM
On behalf of parents of children in the Starkville School District (SSD), we oppose House Bill 716, which provides for consolidation of the Starkville School District and the Oktibbeha County School District (OCSD). We, along with the Starkville School District PTO Executive Council and Parents for Public Schools Starkville Executive Board, are asking the Senate to delay action on this bill until we have had an opportunity as a community to explore how best to achieve a successful solution that benefits children in both districts. With all due respect to the Mississippi Legislature, we are confident that dialogue among citizens who are the most direct stakeholders is the only path that will produce innovative ideas and collaborative solutions to achieve the results we all desire for children in our community.
The SSD has a successful record and is making significant progress toward achieving the highest ranking among public schools in Mississippi. Many parents, independently and through our organizations and others, have worked alongside teachers and administrators to strengthen our schools. We want to continue to build on this momentum in the years ahead, for the good of our children and for the benefit of all citizens of our community and state.
We are aware of the struggles that have plagued the OCSD as the State Department of Education has twice taken control of the district in attempts to solve problems in the district. We understand that problems facing the OCSD are complex and have been beyond the ability of the State Department of Education to adequately address. We share concerns about the children in that district. However, we do not believe simply folding the two school districts without any forethought or planning will produce the desired results. In fact, we believe that such action would create additional problems rather than producing a workable solution.
We hope to have the opportunity to come together with others in our community and with state leaders to explore options that can address the needs of children in both districts in a responsible manner. House Bill 716 is not the answer.
Please join us in asking Mississippi's senators for their help in preventing this bill from becoming law during the current legislative session. Contact information for senators can be found online at http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/members/s_roster.pdf.
Jamie Perry, President, Starkville PTO
Anne Buffington, President, Parents for Public Schools Starkville
Doug Bedsaul, President, Starkville Foundation for Public Education