Drew, Ruleville prepare to merge
by Rory Doyle
Jul 26, 2012 | 4175 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rivals becoming teammates. In essence, that is the case for the former Drew Hunter High School and current Ruleville Central High School.

This Saturday, beginning at 9:30 a.m., parents, students, teachers and administrators from both schools will gather for a meet-and-greet at Ruleville, as the two schools will become one this fall.

The controversial ruling of Mississippi's school consolidation law, SB 2330, is the legislation behind the move.

The merge was mandated by the state as Drew had been facing a multitude of problems, including poor academic performance, discipline and finances.

SB 2330 says that any Mississippi county having three school districts, all of which are under conservatorship by the Mississippi Department of Education, shall become an administrative consolidation into one countywide school district.

The three districts in the county — Sunflower County School District, Drew School District and Indianola School — are all operating under a state-issued conservatorship.

Multiple attempts to reach a representative from the Mississippi Department of Education and Charles Barron, the state-appointed conservator for Drew School District, were unsuccessful.

Gov. Phil Bryant signed SB 2330 in April, requiring the three districts to consolidate into one.

For at least this year, Drew and Sunflower County will merge, while Indianola will operate as a separate entity.

Sen. Willie Simmons, D-Cleveland, has expressed his frustration with the merge, and wishes a local voice had played a bigger role in the state's ruling.

"I just think our communities should get together, sit down and put a progressive plan together, as opposed to outsiders mandating policies," said Simmons.

"Local leaders need to be assertive and proactive because they know what's best for our students," he added. "This way we don't have to react to mandates from others."

The Mississippi Board of Education voted in June 2011 to take over Drew School District and name a conservator to oversee the school's compliance.

The Children First Act of 2009 allows the Mississippi Board of Education to remove any district’s superintendent and school board when the district fails for consecutive years on state standardized testing.

Under the act, the state can implement a recovery plan for a failing district. If the district has shown no improvement after two years, the governor can declare a state of emergency; opening the door for state conservatorship.

As for the meet-and-greet this weekend, the day will be filled with games, activities, food and class registrations. For more information on the event, contact Ruleville Central High at 662-745-6657.