Work officially begins on Partnership School

The groundbreaking ceremony taking place for the new Partnership School
Staff Writer

An ongoing project moved a step closer to completion when ground was broken on the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Partnership School Wednesday morning.

Once complete, the $27.5 million school will house all SOCSD sixth and seventh grade students and serve as a laboratory for the Mississippi State University College of Education.

SOCSD has contributed $12.5 million toward the project and the state of Mississippi has contributed $10 million. MSU has also kicked in $5 million and the land the school will be built on near the north entrance of campus near the intersection of Highway 182 and George Perry Boulevard.

“This was a challenge,” said School Board President Keith Coble. “It took a lot of leadership on all sides to make this happen, the university, the school district, the state legislature, a lot of cooperation. In the end people made this happen. If we had not had these people I don’t think it would have happened.”

The groundbreaking ceremony included remarks from Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, MSU President Mark Keenum, Donor and Oasis Petroleum CEO Tommy Nusz and SOCSD Superintendent Lewis Holloway. Several state legislators and other local officials also attended.

Reeves said the partnership school is a good response to the challenges of consolidation, and the need for a new school.

“I think we have a world-class university here in Oktibbeha County, and were continuing to move and seeing progress, and we’re going to have and we do have a world-class public educational system in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi,” Reeves said.

Reeves also acknowledged the roles of State Representatives Robbie Roberson, R-Starkville, and Tyrone Ellis, D-Starkville, and State Senators Gary Jackson, R-French Camp, and Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, in getting the project off the ground.

Holloway discussed how far the district had come since the beginning of consolidation in 2012, and the events leading up to the decision to build the school.

“Can you imagine a school with 800 students that has 100 colleges students working with teachers every day, developing lessons, helping with technology, helping with tutoring, college professors in the building working with teachers,” Holloway said. “What better educational environment is there out there?”

Keenum called the school a “win, win, win” for MSU, Starkville and Oktibbeha County, and said it would also make for great experience for MSU College of Education students who will be able to observe teachers in the classroom and learn crucial teaching skills at the Partnership School.

“This wouldn’t have happened without collaboration and true partnering,” Keenum said. “There’s no way the Starkville-Oktibbeha School District could do this on their own. We had to work together in tandem.”

Keenum also told the SDN the school would draw attention to MSU and draw administrators and teachers to come observe.

“I think you’re going to see a great deal of interest, and who knows, we may see other schools like this in other areas of our state or across the country,” Keenum said.

Incoming SOCSD Superintendent Eddie Peasant told the SDN he was excited about the project, and that the transition of the project from Holloway’s administration to his was going smoothly.
“I’m really thrilled to be a part of this, and very fortunate to walk in as a new superintendent into a situation where I get to open and break ground for a brand-new school,” Peasant said. “That’s very unusual for a new superintendent.”

Peasant added that he hopes the school will become a leader in the education of both students and teachers in Mississippi.

Dirt work at the site is set to begin immediately, following the school board’s approval of a $2,493,903 bid from the Tremont-based Cademy Construction, LLC, at its last meeting. Completion is projected for January 2019.