/With back to school approaching, imperiled Mound Bayou school remains in limbo

With back to school approaching, imperiled Mound Bayou school remains in limbo

Nonprofit Mississippi News Officials from North Bolivar Consolidated District, school staff, and parents are unsure if there will be five or three schools this fall. John F. Kennedy High school in Mound Bayou, one of the two Bolivar County schools that are closing, is scheduled to temporarily remain open until a final order from a judge. “Basically, everything is on hold. “We have to plan as if everything is going to be the same as last year,” Maurice Smith, superintendent North Bolivar Consolidated Schools District. W.M. Sanders, Chancery Judge, will issue an order that could lead to the high school’s closure. Sanders will issue an order anytime between now and the start of the school year, which could lead to the closure of the high school. Smith stated that if this happens, “We will need to make preparations in order to create a new configuration.” The district will have to cancel plans to operate five schools in the 2018-2019 academic school year, and instead reduce the number to three. The North Bolivar Consolidated District school boards voted 3-2 in January to approve a plan which would see the closing of Mound Bayou’s high school and the relocation of all Shelby high school students. Smith pointed out that the district had to cut its number of schools due to declining enrollment, funding and teachers certified. Mound Bayou residents protested the decision, which also included a Shelby middle school, saying that it would remove a significant part of their history. Mound Bayou residents filed a March injunction asking Chancery Judge W.M. Sanders asked for an injunction asking Chancery Judge W.M. They also requested that Smith be fired. Eulah Peterson, Mound Bayou mayor, stated that the injunction would allow residents to provide more feedback and assess the financials of the district. “That will allow us to sit down and give more input to the reconfiguration and to consider what we could do to reduce dollars. Peterson stated that there are alternatives to the one we chose (closing two schools)…. It is not right to bus children from Shelby to Mound Bayou. Three main arguments are used to support the request for an injunction: Smith wasn’t properly licensed to recommend to the board to consolidate; the decision was illegally voted on in executive session; and when the Legislature made Mound bayou School District merge with North Bolivar school district in 2014, “the Mississippi Legislature didn’t construe the consolidation as a requirement that any school close.” Attorney John Hooks who represents Smith and the District, argued that Sanders doesn’t have the legal authority that would prevent a school from closing a school board ever closing down. Hooks testified in court Monday that there is no claim that the school board’s decision was made arbitrarily. “As Mr. Smith testified to, the school board doesn’t relish closing a school.” Peterson is optimistic about the chances of keeping the high-school open. “I am hopeful. She said that she was hopeful. “That’s something [the petitioners] will] have to decide but I hope we don’t let that die at that time.” _x000D