Changes move forward for new Bolivar County school districts
by Rory Doyle
Jul 26, 2013 | 3034 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Gov. Phil Bryant issued a writ of election Wednesday, setting the dates for special elections to designate boards of trustees for the new North Bolivar and West Bolivar School Districts.

The election is scheduled for Nov. 5 and the qualifying deadline for school board candidates is Sept. 6. A runoff, if necessary, will be Nov. 26.

The qualification period for this special election commences on Aug. 7 and concludes on Sept. 6.

Senate Bill 2760, enacted in 2012, directed five Bolivar County school districts to be combined into two, with the new school boards required establishment by 2014.

Legislators argue the strategic move could free up at least $1.2 million by cutting administrative salaries.

The small districts have seen decreases in population over the last 10 years, with some only providing basic course offerings.

The Benoit, West Bolivar and Shaw districts will become a new West Bolivar district based in Rosedale.

Mound Bayou and North Bolivar will become a new North Bolivar district based in Mound Bayou. The Cleveland School District is to be left alone.

The NBSD will have about 1,265 students and the WBSD will have about 1,689 students.

Pursuant to Section 1 of SB 2760, the trustees of the new consolidated districts shall be elected to staggered terms of office as provided for in Miss. Code Ann. 37-7-207.

Patrice Guilfoyle, communications director for the Mississippi Department of Education, laid out the basic parameters for the upcoming elections.

"The new boards will select a superintendent," said Guilfoyle. "Five elected board members, as determined by the new district lines, will have the same qualifications as all board members."

District lines will be slightly different from years past, and only those living within the lines are qualified to run for a board position. Each candidate must collect required civilian signatures to be considered a contender.

In the West Bolivar School District, current Shaw interim Superintendent Judy Nelson, said two people from Shaw would be voted into the new board, as well as two from the West Bolivar area and one from Benoit.

Current Mound Bayou Superintendent William Crockett said he has yet to receive detailed information from Mississippi leadership about the immense changes ahead.

"We haven't received any communication in writing — in fact, we've received very little information on any of it," said Crockett. "Other than Senate Bill 2700, we have no guidelines."

While the new boards will eventually appoint new superintendents, Crockett said he's not concerned about potentially losing his job.

"I'm not concerned at all," he said. "This is a democratic process that has to be followed — I can only accept that."