Starkville School District is tweaking part of its consolidation plan less than a month before its state-mandated merger with Oktibbeha County schools takes effect.
On Tuesday, SSD’s board gave Superintendent Lewis Holloway permission to lease a two-classroom trailer for up to $1,100 per month to bring to Armstrong Middle School that will allow county sixth-graders to attend classes there starting this August. Holloway said the mobile classrooms, along with two new permanent classrooms in the AMS sixth-grade building, will help the campus accommodate the 57 county students. He said the district would also bring two teachers from the county elementary schools over to AMS.
“I think we’ve got a pretty good handle on this,” Holloway told The Dispatch after Tuesday’s school board meeting.
Originally, county sixth-graders would attend either East or West Oktibbeha County Elementary, depending on what part of the county they lived, and attend AMS starting in seventh grade. The district also plans to partner with Mississippi State University to build a demonstration school at the MSU campus that would one day house all sixth- and seventh-graders in th consolidated district.
The federal Department of Justice, however, balked at the idea that county sixth-graders would be housed separately and have fewer educational opportunities. DOJ also filed other objections to the district’s desegregation plan in federal court.
Holloway said he hopes bringing the county sixth-graders to AMS would ease some of the DOJ’s objections with the overall consolidation plan, but he still expects the case to go to federal court as soon as this fall. In the meantime, the planned consolidation will proceed.
According to Holloway, the 28-by-60-foot trailer will house elective courses, so that both city and county students will attend classes there. He said the district would also have to determine the best way to bring the trailer onto campus without permantly damaging the “ornate fence” set in concrete that encompasses AMS.
“If we put electives in there, everyone cycles through the trailers and no one is stigmatized,” Holloway said.
The district has also sent letters to parents of AMS students informing them of the change. AMS will also host orientation meeting for the new sixth-graders and their parents in July.
Board vice president Jenny Turner complimented the administration for responding quickly and effectively with an adequate plan to move the county sixth-graders on short notice.
“Dr. Holloway and the principals have done a great job planning,” Turner said. “With such a small number of students coming over, I think we’ll be able to accommodate them easily.”
Zack Plair is the managing editor for The Dispatch.
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