Consolidation: Long dialogue needed

Gov. Haley Barbour’s school consolidation commission has received its first recommendations, which should help bring a much-needed statewide discussion on this long-simmering issue.

Barbour appointed Commission on Mississippi Education Structure late last year to begin investigating consolidation of some of the state’s 152 school districts. An outside consulting firm hired by the group has recommended the merger of 18 school districts, the majority of which are in the Delta and north Mississippi.

The 18 districts that consultants identified for possible consolidation with other districts are: Aberdeen, Benoit, Coahoma County, Coffeeville, Drew, East Jasper, Hazlehurst, Hollandale, Indianola, Jefferson Davis County, Kemper County, Montgomery County, North Panola, Okolona, Oktibbeha County, Quitman, Shaw and West Tallahatchie.

The commission now must decide on final recommendations.