- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - In addition to the House Education Committee passing a bill that would expand subsidies for students to attend private schools, the House and Senate Education Committees Thursday passed a series of bills that would merge or dissolve 12 school districts.

Here’s a look at districts that would be merged or dissolved:

- Holmes County and Durant would be merged. Last year, the Legislature required officials from those counties to study consolidation. Mississippi Department of Education officials reported opposition was so strong that they had trouble persuading people to serve on the commission. Ultimately, the commission reported its opposition, but county officials said that if the state was going to force consolidation, local officials requested almost $30 million to build a new countywide high school.

Durant Superintendent Edwin Robinson’s request to speak to Senate committee members was denied. “I’m very disappointed,” said Robinson, named superintendent in July. “We haven’t been duplicative in our spending. We haven’t been wasteful.”

- Carroll County, Montgomery County and Winona would be merged. Sen. Lydia Chassaniol, R-Winona, said she favored merging Winona, Carroll County and Montgomery County because she believes a combined district would be able to build one large high school in Winona, improving offerings.

She said Selim Bassoul, CEO of the parent company of Greenwood’s Viking Range, has offered to raise private money for a new school. She said just merging Montgomery County and Winona wouldn’t increase the size of the district enough because Montgomery County has only 273 students.

-Chickasaw County, Houston and Okolona would be merged. Superintendents of all three told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (https://bit.ly/20Hqnat ) they felt the consolidation would negatively impact academic improvement plans.

- Coahoma Agricultural High School would be dissolved and students would return to the Coahoma County and Clarksdale districts.

- Lumberton would be dissolved and Lumberton’s territory would be split between the Poplarville and Lamar County school districts.

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