Considering that Mississippi once had more than 2,000 public school districts, Gov. Haley Barbour’s proposal to reduce the number from 152 down to 100 might not seem so monumental a task.
Until you look back down the road consolidation has taken.
The reason Mississippi had thousands of school districts until the middle of the 20th century was because many existed only on paper. They were supposed to serve black students, but they had neither the facilities nor the faculty nor the finances to do so.
When the end of segregation ended the pretense of those phantom districts, the number of school districts shrank dramatically.
In time, 31 of the state’s 82 counties — including George and Stone in South Mississippi — would combine their schools into a single district. And two counties — Issaquena and Sharkey in the lower Delta — would even consolidate all their schools.