- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Latest on education proposals in the Legislature (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

House members are advancing a bill to set up a vastly expanded program using tax money to pay private school tuition.

The House Education Committee Thursday, on a split voice vote, approved House Bill 943, subsidizing children in families that make as much as $85,000 a year.

The program expands and makes permanent provisions approved last year giving money for special education students to attend private schools.

The bill would allow nearly 5,000 students per year to join the program. It goes to the House for more work.

Students receiving money wouldn’t be required to take tests to measure academic achievement, unlike public school students. Rep. Joel Bomgar, a Madison Republican who gave $200,000 to groups campaigning for school choice in Mississippi, says parental satisfaction is the best accountability.

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12:15 p.m.

Lawmakers are pushing forward legislation to abolish two school districts and consolidate at least eight others, part of a renewed push to pare down Mississippi’s 144 school districts in the name of efficiency.

The Senate Education Committee voted Thursday to abolish Coahoma County Agricultural High School and the Lumberton school district. Lumberton’s territory would be split between the Poplarville and Lamar County school districts.

The committee also voted to merge the Durant and Holmes County school districts; the Houston, Chickasaw County and Okolona school districts; and the Carroll County, Montgomery County and Winona school districts.

The House Education Committee has also passed a bill to merge Durant and Holmes County and is considering a bill to merge Leflore County and Greenwood.

Opponents say consolidations ignore the will of their communities.


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