Community members gathered in Baxterville to voice concerns of the proposed “Baxterville Project” announced by the Lamar County School District.
The project will take 6th through 8th grade students from the Baxterville School in south Lamar County, and transition them to Purvis Middle School.
The students would make the transition to begin high school at Purvis, but this plan will move them there earlier.
“This way the students could get their earlier," said Lamar County Superintendent Tess Smith. "At an age where it’s a lot easier to make friends and join in clubs and organizations and become acclimated, so by the time they do hit high school they are set."
This would leave the existing Baxterville School to be a focused elementary school with Pre-Kindergarten through 5th grade.
Smith cited drop-out, completion and graduation rates for one of the reasons for the proposal.
More than 120 people gathered to voice their concerns about the district’s plan.
“I'm not sure exactly where their statistics are actually coming from, I think that our community deserves a little more time to be able to actually look up the correct statistics to present before the board before they actually make a decision on this,” said Baxterville School parent, Michelle Thompson.
Members of the crowd took turns expressing concerns, citing the past issues between Baxterville and Purvis students. Some referenced that kids are known as the “Baxterville ones” or called on by the phrase “hey Baxterville”.
One concern that was voiced by parents as well as a few students was bullying.
“Bullying is an issue, and most kids in my classroom aren’t from Baxterville, that’s another thing I don’t have lots of classes with Baxterville kids, so I feel kind of isolated from everyone,” said Purvis 9th grader Ava Rayborn.
Another issue at hand parents addressed is the extended bus routes and the amount of time the “younger” children will have to ride to school.
Other topics addressed were the potential loss of jobs at the school, closing the school in the future, or building a separate high school for the Baxterville community.
“I'm just infuriated with the whole thing, build a high school over here, keep our kids in our community, and build our community up. Purvis is big, nothing against the school or nothing, but our kids are fine right here in Baxterville,” said Baxterville School parent, Susie Young.
A petition was started at the meeting and passed for supports to sign, so it can be presented to the school board at the October 1st meeting.
One school district employee who was leading the meeting encouraged everyone to attend the school board meeting and to bring their children.
Parents told Seven on Your Side they would provide documentation at a later date, showing that the statements and statistics presented by Tess Smith were false.