Failing schools could get more time to improve

Published 7:00 am Thursday, March 13, 2014

SCHOOL TAKE OVER: Representative Mark Formby said House Bill 455 has passed through both chambers of the legislature and will now go to conference to debate the finer points of the bill.  AP File Photo

SCHOOL TAKE OVER: Representative Mark Formby said House Bill 455 has passed through both chambers of the legislature and will now go to conference to debate the finer points of the bill.
AP File Photo

A House Bill that would relieve the Mississippi Department of Education from taking over 52 schools that rated “F” at the end of the current school year has passed both the House and Senate.

House Bill 455 had previously passed through the House and was also passed through the Senate on Wednesday with a 49-2 vote.

Representative Mark Formby said the bill will now go to conference to be discussed and further revised by three members of the House and three members of the Senate.

The bill is to amend a previous law that would require the department of education to take over failing schools.

Formby said when the law was first written the legislature had no idea there would be such a large number of public schools in need of department of education intervention.

Current law dictates the Mississippi Department of Education can’t take over individual schools, but must take over the entire district that the school falls into.

Formby said it is premature to talk about the finer points of the bill until it has gone to conference.

In conference, the six members of the legislature will negotiate to create a final draft that will then be presented to both chambers, Formby said.

The legislature has three weeks to amend, defeat or pass the changes made to the bill before the session ends.

The 52 schools that may be taken over under current law have rated an “F” for a third consecutive year. House Bill 455 would give the department of education the ability to take over an individual school after two years of “F” ratings.

Senator Tony Smith voted for the bill, while Senator Angela Hill voted against the bill on Wednesday.

Representatives Formby and Herb Frierson both voted for the bill in a 117-3 house vote on Feb. 5.

Smith, Hill, Formby and Frierson represent Pearl River County in the state legislature.

Pearl River County currently has no failing schools in the three school districts.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.