3 pinebelt school districts recommended for consolidation - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

3 pinebelt school districts recommended for consolidation

By Kevin Wheeler - bio | email 

Hattiesburg, MS (WDAM) - Governor Haley Barbour recommended consolidating some of the state's school districts in his fiscal 2011 budget recommendation late last year. Barbour set up a panel to study the issue and a consulting firm released a study Monday.

Three pinebelt districts were recommended to consolidate. The East Jasper School District, the Jeff Davis County School district, and Forrest County Agricultural High School were all recommended.

"I would think that if the state decided to consolidate us, they would put us under probably Forrest County," said Forrest County Agricultural High School Superintendent, Elizabeth Yankay.

Yankay said she sees positives and negatives in consolidating.

"We would be able to offer things to students that we are not able to offer now," Yankay said.

The school is in its own district with nearly 600 students. 

Yankay said the school has a lot of history and consolidating may not sit well with the community.

"There's so much history and tradition with this school that people want to keep alive, but yet we have to be in the 21st century and be realistic about what we can and have to offer," said Yankay.

The study recommends the East Jasper County District consolidate with the West Jasper County District.

The recommendation says the Jeff Davis County School District should consolidate with an unspecified district.

There are three ways the consolidations can happen.

First, lawmakers would have to change the law for the consolidations to happen.  Secondly, two or more districts would have to agree on consolidating, or they would have to come through enticement.

The panel is scheduled to meet again May 10.

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