Some Simpson County taxpayers skeptical of high school consolidation process

Published: Jul. 24, 2022 at 8:36 PM CDT
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SIMPSON CO., Miss. (WLBT) - Some Simpson County taxpayers aren’t on board with the school district’s plans to merge its two high schools.

It’s an issue that’s made its way to chancery court.

That chancery court battle is over and done with, at least for now. A judge recently ruled in favor of the district’s plan to fund this consolidation effort through a capital lease.

It’s a plan that several Simpson County residents filed an objection against.

The consolidation plan for Magee and Mendenhall high schools is raising eyebrows among some Simpson County taxpayers and parents.

Krissi Kahn, whose 10-year-old used to be in the district, says much of the reason stems from a lack of transparency about the process.

“Every time they want to discuss finance, or they want to discuss land purchases or anything that really revolves around this consolidation, they call these special meetings, and the public can’t interact with them,” Kahn said.

However, the school’s superintendent says the district held twelve open forums that dealt specifically with consolidation and even designed a website to keep residents in the know.

“No parents have reached out to me and said anything about any concerns or asked any questions. There are some community members who don’t have any kids in the district who have asked or who have raised a concern or who have had issues with what we’re trying to do for our kids,” Simpson County School District Superintendent Dr. Toriano Holloway said.

Transparency aside, Kahn also questions how the district is managing taxpayer dollars.

For example, the district held a county-wide special election in March where residents voted against a proposed financing option for the consolidated high school.

Kahn says holding that special election cost $30,000, and the district could’ve saved that money by putting it on the ballot during the June primary election.

When asked about this, the superintendent said the vote was held in March because ‘timing is everything when it comes to a project of this magnitude.’

“Some of those same people who reached out to you with those concerns are costing taxpayers money now because they filed an objection to the capital lease that by law we can do,” said Dr. Holloway. “So they are costing taxpayers more money now than if we had gone on and done the lease or if we had done the bond issue.”

It’s unclear if those who objected to the capital lease plan to or are able to appeal the court’s decision.

But either way, the superintendent says the consolidation is set in stone. It’s just a question of how to fund it.

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