Forrest County school becomes candidate for consolidation - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Forrest County school becomes candidate for consolidation

FORREST COUNTY, MS (WDAM) -

Legislators in Jackson are taking a look at the Pine Belt's Forrest County Agricultural High School as a candidate for consolidation.

However what the term "consolidated" means isn't quite clear yet.

"The way I would define it is narrowing down the amount of school districts within any particular county," said Forrest County Board of Supervisors President David Hogan.

For FCAHS, it could mean either that the school, which is not inside a district but one of three independently functioning schools in Mississippi, will be pushed into the Forrest County School District, or it will be closed and the students sent elsewhere.

Hogan has three children who have - or are currently - attending the school, which Hogan says functions extremely efficiently.

"I think that FCAHS should used as the model for these new charter schools and consolidated school districts," said Hogan. "They do such a fine job graduating well-educated, well-rounded children on a shoestring budget."

With a tightening budget, legislators in Jackson are looking to pinch pennies anywhere they can, and the state's three agricultural high schools - Forrest County's being one of them - have come under the microscope. The Department of Education has commissioned a study to take a look at whether the 100-year-old high school is worth the money that it costs. They study will be submitted to legislators in December.

"The money is going to be a big thing and then the performance of the school is going to be another component they're going to look at," said Hogan. "We have three administrators at the agricultural high school, some of these other school districts have as many as 20 I've been told."

Residents in the Brooklyn community - and students attending the school - say the school defines the community, and has for generations.

"I would hate for it to close down because first of all I work there and the school's been around for over 100 years," said FCAHS football coach Solomon Kidd. "It's a lot of traditions and I would hate to see that all just go to waste."

"I guarantee you the people in this community if it cost a little more, they'll come to it, they'll come to it because it's part of us," said Babs Williams who has had three generations of family attend the school.

Hogan says it is unlikely that the school - which is by all accounts more beloved than the average high school - will be closed. But, no matter how unlikely, it is a scary thought to many.

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