- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - House members are putting Okolona back into a plan to consolidate Chickasaw County’s school districts, but want to give Perry County and Richton school districts another year to talk about merging.

Senate Bill 2461 , as it passed that chamber, would have only merged the Houston and Chickasaw County districts. But Rep. Toby Barker, a Hattiesburg Republican, says Okolona’s small enrollment and poor academic performance make it prime for consolidation. The House Education Committee Tuesday amended the bill to require all three districts to merge by 2020.

Okolona has threatened to ask the U.S. Justice Department to block any merger based on Okolona’s desegregation order. All three districts oppose consolidation.

Senate Bill 2463 was amended to appoint a study committee instead of requiring a merger of Richton and Perry County.

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