Commission is working to consolidate districts

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Last month, the commission on the Administrative Consolidation of Lumberton School held its inaugural meeting at William Carey University in Hattiesburg to discuss the merger of the Lumberton Public School District with the Poplarville and Lamar County School Districts.
During this year’s legislative session, the Mississippi Senate consolidated the Lumberton School District and gave the districts involved three years to finalize the process.
Lumberton’s School District has 585 students, previous coverage states.
Each district was required to appoint a commission to represent their interests at the planning sessions. The Poplarville School District’s commission includes Poplarville Superintendent Carl Merritt, Poplarville School Board member Tommy Strahan and Poplarville School District Finance Director Samantha Sandifer.
“We were asked to do this (consolidation),” Merritt said. “We didn’t seek it out. We were told this is what we have to do.”
Since the announcement of consolidation, Merritt said his office hasn’t received negative comments from community members.
Members of the public are invited to attend commission meetings and are asked to not comment during the meeting, Merritt said. Instead, they are urged to communicate their concerns through their local district offices.
Last month’s meeting was just a preliminary meeting to establish ground rules and talking points, Merritt said.
Some of those points include phasing in consolidation, determining assets and what to do with the school in Lumberton, he said.
No decisions were made during that initial meeting, he added.
“Our main goal is for a smooth transition for the kids,” Merritt said. “We don’t know how many children we will get yet. Students living in Pearl River County will probably go to Poplarville.”
The Mississippi Department of Education sets the dates for commission meetings. Another meeting will probably be held in late August or early September, Merritt said.

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