School plans narrowing but still undecided

October 4, 2013 11:09:15 AM

Carl Smith - [email protected]


The Commission on Consolidated Starkville School District Structure laid out two plans to address short- and long-term, merger-created logistical needs Thursday but did not cement options on how to successfully join the two systems' student populations in 2015. 


Previous working ideas include preserving East and West Oktibbeha County elementary schools -- both campuses go up to the sixth grade -- while moving county high school students to Starkville High School. How the consolidated school system will tend to middle school students remains an unanswered question. 


Starkville School District Superintendent Lewis Holloway presented a list of options to consolidation committee members to help remedy the situation. A short-term fix would send the city's sixth grade population to Overstreet School -- 20 classrooms for 350 students -- and displace SSD's alternative school while the district addresses long-term needs with a new construction project. 


The construction plan calls for a $14 million, 99,900-square-foot campus for grades 8-9. Ninth grade would be pulled from SHS, thereby alleviating capacity problems created by increased enrollment and creating space for future growth. A similar plan proposed for a new grades 6-7 school would save the district about $2 million, but board members said the eighth and ninth grade plan would be more beneficial to the district in the future. 


If the short-term Overstreet plan is adopted, the district would have to temporarily overcome a number of obstacles. The campus does not have a gymnasium, and at least $108,000 would be needed in air conditioning needs, a board document states. Also, the facility could require about $53,000 to equip its small cafeteria, but district workers could transport food from off-site locations. A new bus route would also be needed, and district officials predict the parent drop-off location will become congested. Art, music and physical education offerings are also concerns.  


The county could house SSD's alternative school in the county education building, located on Main Street between the courthouse and annex. The facility, constructed in 2011, currently houses Oktibbeha County School District administrators. Holloway previously alluded to using the facility to open space at minor SSD campuses, including Overstreet and Emerson Family School. 


Since the building is county owned, supervisors will have a say in how it's used in the future. Orlando Trainer, Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors president and consolidation committee member, previously said he hoped the building's usage would remain geared toward education, but all options are on the table as the county moves forward. 


Funding sources for costs associated with the short- and long-term plans still remain unidentified. Consolidation committee members are expected to broach that subject in their 5 p.m. Oct. 22 meeting at the Greensboro Center. Members also pointed to receiving public input in a future listening session after a logistical plan is decided upon.

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