- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 19, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Lawmakers have given final passage to bills that would merge six school districts and dissolve two others.

A total of five bills went to Gov. Phil Bryant’s desk. If he signs them all, the number of school districts in Mississippi would fall from 144 to 139.

Holmes County and Durant would merge on July 1, 2018, under House Bill 926. The measure calls for the Mississippi Department of Education to appoint a financial adviser to oversee district spending before then. A countywide school board would be elected in November 2017.

House Bill 987 merges Greenwood and Leflore County, effective July 1, 2019. The bill provides that a countywide elected school board will be phased in with two new members taking office in 2019, two in 2020 and one in 2021. Until then, some appointed members of the Greenwood school board would remain in office. It also bars any members of the former Leflore County school board, which was abolished when the state took over the district, from ever serving on the new board.

Winona and Montgomery County would merge on July 1, 2018, under Senate Bill 2496. The measure calls for the Mississippi Department of Education to appoint a financial adviser to oversee district spending before then. Winona would appoint three school board members, with county voters electing two members who would begin serving Jan. 1, 2019.

Lawmakers also agreed to dissolve the Lumberton School District on July 1, 2019, under Senate Bill 2500, splitting it up between the Lamar County and Poplarville school districts. An 11-member advisory commission would develop a plan on how to split the district, with plans to maintain a school in Lumberton.

Finally, Senate Bill 2501 would dissolve the Coahoma County Agricultural High School on July 1, 2018, setting up a plan to turn the Clarksdale institution into an early college high school run by Coahoma Community College. If the state Board of Education approves the plan, the school would award college credit to up to 400 high school students from Bolivar, Coahoma, Tunica, Tallahatchie and Quitman counties.

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