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School board to address transfer issue

December 3, 2012

By CARL SMITH
news@starkvilledailynews.com

Today, the Starkville School District Board of Trustees are expected to address a potential student transfer situation that developed after Oktibbeha County School District’s state takeover.

The school board will meet at 6 p.m. at the Greensboro Center.

Last month, District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer sought permission from the city school board to transfer in his children from the county system in lieu of that system’s current accreditation issues. Trainer said OCSD Conservator Jayne Sargent previously signed a statement releasing his children to from the county school district, and officials have said she would allow similar transfers.

In order to transfer between school districts, both the departing and receiving school system must sign off on the move.

While speaking on his own situation, Trainer said other parents in the county could be interested in similar transfer agreements.

School board members unanimously tabled Trainer’s request until today so trustees could make a measured, well-studied decision. By acting on the matter at its previous meeting, trustees agreed the district would be setting a precedent for all future county transfer requests.

Many hurdles are in place that could keep SSD from accepting county school transfers. SSD’s racial demographics are closely monitored on the federal level, and any percentage change would warrant approval from the Department of Justice. Also, the district’s financial situation would change with additional students.

SSD can seek additional funding for transfer students, but no mechanism is in place to divert county ad valorem returns into the district.

Before trustees tabled the matter, school board member Eddie Myles brought up the issue of consolidation, saying he envisions a time when city and county students can receive a quality education under one system. After the meeting, Trainer and District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams both said they supported a consolidated school system.

SSD Superintendent Lewis Holloway said he believes OCSD has a better shot to regain accreditation before any working functions are in place to deal with potential transfer issues and before a functional consolidation plan can be developed.

“We put it off to make sure the board has enough time to make a reasoned decision about the issue. This issue has a lot of complexity associated with it that you have to think about, things like the civil rights order, our (physical) space issues and how we are funded,” Board of Trustees President Keith Coble said Sunday. “When we discussed the issue previously, I think a lot of us were speaking from the heart on the issue. Once again, the board members will all have their own chance to express their feelings again.”

Calls placed to Trainer were not returned as of press time.

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