The House Education Committee on Thursday advanced House Bill 716, which would combine the two districts on July 1, 2015. It goes to the House for more debate.
Rep. Toby Barker, a Hattiesburg Republican sponsoring the proposal, says students in the Oktibbeha district, recently taken over by the state for a second time, would be better served by the Starkville district.
The bill doesn't mandate school closings. The Oktibbeha district runs two elementary schools and two high schools.
Barker's bill creates a school board with three members appointed by the city, one elected by voters outside the city but in the current Starkville district, and one member from the current Oktibbeha district appointed by county supervisors.