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Our Simpson County School Board is hot on the topic of consolidation for our county high schools. Some board members agree and some board members disagree. From a personal standpoint, I have been for consolidation for years. I believe for our county to move forward consolidated schools is a must. But again, that is just my opinion.
I spoke with SCSB President Danny Cowart last week. He gave me permission to share this email which is an overview of the options on the table at this time.
We must come together as a county and strive to move forward.
Fellow SCSB Members,
I thought I would take the time to write my thoughts on the current state of our facilities district wide. We, the SCSB, paid Bailey Educational Group to conduct a systematic and comprehensive study of our entire district’s facilities. The study delivered to the board an accurate and data driven look at our current facilities. While the study was being completed, access to prior studies was given. None of the prior studies addressed the situation as thoroughly as Bailey, but all pointed to the need to act. The two prior studies both pointed to the need for consolidation to upgrade physical plants and for efficiency of operations. We, SCSB, knew nothing of the buildings in the industrial park until the first part of the Bailey facility study was completed. After the study indicated the need for a comprehensive plan to bring the SCSD facilities quality up, the consolidated High School was eliminated due to cost outside of the bonding power of the county. The fact that the industrial park is available was brought to the Board’s attention by Board Member Boykin when one building failed to sale at auction. The economic opportunity came to light and Bailey was contacted to add to the park as an option to the study. From district plan 5.0, it was discovered not only could you consolidate, but gaps in the other options (including 4.1) for the students could be met with the purchase and usage of the park.
5.0 proposal from Bailey in my opinion is the only viable option to consolidate or to be effective bringing ALL areas of physical plants up to truly great facilities for the entire district. Here is why I believe 5.0 would be the very best option for all the students of the SCSD:
- With possible temporary hit to Educational funding and tax revenue the $3.5M in operational savings may be essential.
- Within two years of 5.0 bond issue passage, SCSD Facilities would move from adequate to exemplifying the expectations of an A level District by the facilities.
- The SCSD will receive what is equivalent to 1/3 of the total bonding power of the county for the schools free. We would be in effect giving away about $10m in monies that could be used for the students of the SCSD if this option is not put forward to the public.
- The buildings in the Industrial Park are state of the art magnificent buildings as they sit now. Fully ready for current best practice in technology.
- Much debate on the academics of the schools’ grade realignment. We only have actuals in the transition of 6th grade from elementary to junior high, Simpson Central which is a B school. The situation currently with students transitioning to the 9th grade to our high schools is not good by the data. There is no presenting data in our current situation to dissuade not have 6th through 9th junior highs at the current campuses use for high schools.
- Add a campus to the county system so we are not at or near capacity when facility construction is completed. If we proceeded with the recommended closing of Mendenhall Jr. High, the Mendenhall High School campus would become grades 6th – 12th in Bailey proposal 4.1. This would not allow for future growth without new construction.
- Addition of a 9th grade at Simpson Central. No travel until the 10th Less bus travel for one full year and less their High School years as many may have a driver’s license and either drive or ride with friends.
- It is the only option that provides newly renovated athletic and fine arts facilities. The Magee Sportsplex, newly renovated Simpson County Football stadium, and Outdoor Track facilities gives every sport a new or newly renovated facility. 4.1 does not address.
- The monies spent on the baseball facilities alone for Mendenhall High is almost the cost of the entire sport package in 5.0 with the exception of the Gym at Simpson County High School. 4.1 would present using the current high school gyms and no additional gyms for junior highs.
- Converting the current Mendenhall High School Football field into the new Simpson County Football and Track Stadium. Efficiency uses of current facilities.
- One truly unified School District. A student body completing studies in Great Elementary Schools and Great Junior Highs, to move on to what will hopefully be an A rated High School with more curriculum options and extracurricular activities.
- These facilities will aid in recruiting quality employees as well as students. Students who have left SCSD may return.
This is the primary purpose of 5.0, giving to students the best we possibly can, but there are other reasons:
- Business community may attract new jobs via industry development.
- The image of public schools in Simpson County raises expeditiously.
- Staff and student pride elevate. Something new and exciting for Simpson County citizens.
This list is not meant to be exhaustive nor comprehensive. I believe the citizens of Simpson County should have the 5.0 option to consider. I believe the prior generations would applaud our efforts to adjust to these times and future generation will benefit.
Respectfully Submitted for your consideration,
Danny O. Cowart, President SCSB
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