Law passes, Lumberton schools to consolidate

Law passes, Lumberton schools to consolidate
Lumberton schools will consolidate after Gov. Phil Bryant signed SB 2500. Source: WDAM

LUMBERTON, MS (WDAM) - Senate Bill 2500 that targets the Lumberton School District for consolidation has now been signed by the governor.

Gov. Phil Bryant signed four school district consolidation bills that will merge eight Mississippi school districts into four.

  • House Bill 987: Consolidates Leflore County and Greenwood school districts.
  • Senate Bill 2495: Consolidates Montgomery County and Winona school districts.
  • Senate Bill 2500: Consolidates Lumberton and adjoining school districts.
  • House Bill 926: Administrative consolidation of Holmes County and Durant school districts.

According to a release by the governor's office, the four bills will become law on July 1, 2016.

"We need to make sure we are as efficient as we can be in state government. That includes making sure we focus on getting resources into the classrooms, where they're most needed," Gov. Bryant said.

Senate Bill 2500 previous reports:

Senate Bill 2500 recently had a few new amendments added after a recent report from the conference committee.

The bill will still consolidate the Lumberton School District, but now some residents in the district will have a voice in the matter.

The bill is still on track for Lumberton School District to consolidate no later than July 2019.

"The committee report that just came out this past weekend (April 16th) does give the Lumberton School District some seats at the table that I didn't feel like we had before," Lumberton School District Superintendent Linda Smith said.

The initial bill just showed the consolidation happening, but one amendment adds a voice from the community.

"The initial bill, really we didn't feel like we had a voice, and now we feel like we do have a voice," Smith said. "There will be opportunity if the bill passes and if the governor signs it, opportunities for the residents of Lumberton to have a voice on a commission that will help determine how the consolidation happens."

That voice comes from the creation of an 11 member council that will be known as the Commission on the Administrative Consolidation of the Lumberton Public School District.

The 11 members are made up of the following:

  • The State Superintendent of Education
  • The Superintendent of education of Lumberton
  • The Superintendent of education of Lamar County
  • The Superintendent of education of Poplarville
  • Two members of the Lamar County Board of Education, to be appointed by the Lamar County board of Education.
  • One member of the Board of Trustees of the Lumberton School District
  • One resident of the area which comprises the Lumberton Public School District to be appointed by the State Superintendent of Public Education.
  • One resident of the area which comprises the Lamar County School District to be appointed by the Lamar County Board of Supervisors.
  • One resident of the area which comprises the Poplarville Separate School District to be appointed by the Pearl River Board of Supervisors.

"I think it's important for the residents of any community that are going to have this sizable of a change to their community, or potential sizable change to their community they should have a voice, they should have input in how those changes are going to impact them, personally and collectively," Smith said.

"It's possible that this could have a huge negative impact on the community of Lumberton, right now we are just in a wait and see place, but at least we have a seat at the table," Smith said.