OTHER OPINION: Starkville, Oktibbeha County stand to gain

By Columbus Commercial Dispatch

On Tuesday, President Obama gave his state of the union address, but in Oktibbeha County the focus was on the state of the schools.
The Starkville School District and the Oktibbeha County School District held separate meetings last week to discuss the implications of a bill currently being debated by the Legislature that would consolidate the county and city school districts.
Although SSD officials have met with legislators to gain amendments to the bill that would maintain its current leadership in the event that the bill becomes law, there has been little input from the OCSD, mainly because the district doesn’t have a board. Since the fall, the county schools have been under state control. Instead of a board, the schools are being run by a state-appointed conservator.
The consolidation bill is not a state-wide initiative. Rather, it applies specifically to Oktibbeha County and Clay County.
Clay County’s consolidation seems obvious. That district has just one elementary school, so consolidation seems a matter of common sense.
The situation in Oktibbeha is more complicated.
The Starkville School District is thriving. The OCSD’s struggles are all too apparent.
Should the legislation pass, the question emerges: What are the consequences?
There are no sure answers, of course. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting.
We think the consolidation will ultimately prove beneficial to all schools in the county, primarily because it will be under the guidance of Lewis Holloway. Although he is in his first year as SSD superintendent, Holloway has already established himself as an exceptional leader. And leadership is always the critical factor in these circumstances.
Assuming the legislation passes, Oktibbeha County will likely become a litmus test for future consolidation. The success or failure of the consolidation may provide a blueprint for future consolidation.