Public hearing set for school consolidation plan in Starkville/Oktibbeha

Education stockThe Associated Press

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — The Commission on Starkville/Oktibbeha Consolidated School District will host a public hearing at the Greensboro Center auditorium.

The commission has held several meetings, which are open to the public, but Thursday’s meeting will be the first where the public can offer their thoughts on the consolidation process to the seven-member commission.

“At this point we want to hear from the Starkville-Oktibbeha community, and that’s what this meeting is about,” said Oktibbeha County School District Conservator Margie Pulley. “In the past, we’ve had updates where someone from the Mississippi Department of Education will come in and speak with us about some of the issues facing consolidation. Now it’s time to hear from the public.”

The Starkville Daily News reports the consolidation process began earlier this year when Gov. Phil Bryant approved House Bill 716, which called for merging the Oktibbeha County and Starkville School districts. The law created a commission to prepare recommendations for the Legislature by March 2014. The districts will merge in July 2015.

Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors President and commission member Orlando Trainer said he believes the 6 p.m. hearing will be the first of several the commission will host. Trainer said he hoped to see a big crowd, adding he was eager to see what ideas the public might have to offer.

Though consolidation can be a sensitive issue, he said he hoped people would be excited to come together for the future of the school districts, rather than let the issue divide the public.