Senate bill could consolidate Lumberton schools - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

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Senate bill could consolidate Lumberton schools

LUMBERTON, MS (WDAM) -

A Senate bill could disband the Lumberton School District and send those students to Lamar or Pearl River County schools.

The bill, which was introduced by Sen. Gray Tollison, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, details the administrative consolidation of the Lumberton School District that will divide the district into the Lamar County School District and the Pearl River County School District.

“Right now I have a lot of questions, it’s a two-year phase in mentioned, and there are just a lot of questions that I have regarding the writing in the bill,” Lamar County Superintendent Tess Smith said.

The bill reads:

“To provide that the territory of the Lumberton Public School District located in Lamar County shall be transferred to the Lamar County School District and the territory of the Lumberton Public School District located in Pearl River County shall be transferred to the Poplarville Separate School District; to provide that students attending the schools of the former Lumberton Public School District shall be granted an automatic transfer by the Lamar County Board of Education or the Poplarville School Board, as determined by the residence of the student, to continue to attend the schools located in the former Lumberton Public School District."

“When you read through the bill there are multiple questions that we have, like the part where the (Lumberton) board dissolves in 2018, that is a semester before we fully take over, so some of the wording just doesn’t match up,” Smith said.

Smith added she is working closely with school board attorney Rick Norton to draft a list of questions for Sen. John Polk (R-Hattiesburg), regarding the bill.

“When we get that list of questions, we will meet with Sen. Polk and discuss some of those with him,” Smith said. "(Polk) has been extremely helpful so far, they are on the right track but it still needs a lot of work.”

Lumberton Superintendent Linda Smith released a statement regarding the bill: 

"It appears from the language of the bill as introduced that the faculty and students would remain at the Lumberton School at least for the present time, with all future determinations to be made by the Lamar County and Poplarville School Districts.  The Lamar County and Poplarville Districts would have authority over the Lumberton school facilities, faculty and  students.  The unintended consequences of this action may be devastating for this community."

Richton-Perry County are two others mentioned on SB2498 to consolidate as well. This bill proposes the schools consolidate into the Perry County School District effective July 1, 2017.

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