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School officials in favor of consolidation

February 14, 2013

The Mississippi Senate is moving forward with a bill that would require the consolidation of the West Point School District and the Clay County School District, and some longtime Clay County school officials say they’re totally in favor of the consolidation.
For 21 years Annie Johnson has served on the Clay County School Board and currently serves as its president. Johnson said consolidating the two school districts in the county is a wise move by state leaders and feels that it will be a great deal for both West Point and Clay County.
“I have real positive feelings about it,” Johnson said. “It’s a win-win for both school districts. I see it as being nothing but positive. We have good people to work with from the West Point School District. They have embraced us and made us feel welcome. I just don’t think it could have happened under a better superintendent’s watch than Mr. (Burnell) McDonald’s because he knows the ins and outs of Clay County.”
Johnson said the Clay County School District and West Clay Elementary School have a lot to offer the West Point School District. Some of those things are great test scores earned by students of West Clay Elementary, which currently has an overall accountability letter grade of B. Johnson said the Clay County School District has also been able to retain teachers, which she said is a big plus for the Clay County School District.
This Wednesday the Mississippi Senate unanimously voted in favor of Senate Bill 2637, which, if signed by Governor Phil Bryant, would require the consolidation effective July 1, 2014. If the bill does pass the current West Point School Board of Trustees as well as the Clay County School Board will be abolished, and an entirely new school board will be elected in November of 2014 by the electors of Clay County.
Current West Point and Clay County School Board members will have the opportunity to run in the election for a school board seat. Johnson said she does plan to run in the November 2014 school board election to continue catering to the educational needs of the children of West Point and Clay County.
“Those people who have been in trenches to get the district where – it’s important that those people remain in place,” she said. “Someone has to know the past history (of the Clay County School District) and how to deal with it in order to move forward.”
Johnson said if the bill passes she hopes the new school board will decide to leave the West Clay Elementary building in place even though it would be under the administration of the consolidated school district.
“If it works don’t try to fix it,” Johnson said.
West Clay Band Director Percy Jones, who has been involved in the Clay County School District over a decade, said he, too, is in favor of the proposed consolidation of the West Point and Clay County school districts.
“I feel like if the things work out as far as the current faculty and staff I think it would be an asset,” Jones said. “It won’t hurt anything and it’s something we should look forward to doing. The state will come in and do what they have to do, but we – each school district – should have input. I’ve seen things come and go out there, seen the good and bad, but I don’t look at this as a bad situation.”
Senate Bill 2637 will now be sent to the governor for his review and signature.

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