The state of Mississippi could soon be taking over two more school districts for chronically failing their students. At the same time, a third district is being given more time to improve. However, as MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports, a flood of school takeovers could be on the horizon.
A state takeover of Claiborne and Leflore Counties schools would mean removing the superintendents and school board and replacing them with a state conservator to run the D and F rated districts.
It’s a move that disappoints the Claiborne County Superintendent Elijah Brown.
"We are not in that bad of shape. I don't think we could be considered to be in an emergency. We are not endangering our children. We are not endangering the safety. We are not endangering their education. I think it is just wrong the way the ruled in the wrong way for us," Brown said.
However, a third district was spared from conservatorship, the Yazoo City district.
The board decided send in consultants but leave the district under local control after the administration presented a proposed turnaround plan.
Dr. Arthur Cartlidge is the district superintendent.
"It was a lack of urgency. We had to create a sense of urgency in our people. Our staff as well as our students. There was a culture that needed to be changed. And we felt that the first year we were there we went a long way in changing the culture of our high school. And now I think we are on our way," Cartlidge said.
This could be the beginning of series of dozens of potential school take overs because 20-10 law called the "new start" law.
The law requires the board to take over any school that is ranked F and cannot rise to a C grade in two years.
Board president Wayne Gann says as many as 30 schools could be up take over but he considers that an unworkable proposition.
"The state department of education is not an agency that was designed to run school districts or schools. And the timing of it is what is so awful. You come in in September when everybody that is worth hiring, except in rare cases, already has a job and you have got to terminate all the staff," Gann said.
Gann says the board supports the goal of working to improve chronically failing schools and could ask the 2014 legislature to re-examine the law and make the takeovers optional or alter the time frame.