Gov. Phil Bryant on Wednesday approved a takeover by the state Department of Education of a rural eastern Mississippi school district experiencing financial and other problems.
Photo by Stephen Wilson.
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Gov. Phil Bryant on Wednesday approved a takeover by the state Department of Education of a rural eastern Mississippi school district experiencing financial and other problems.
Bryant signed an executive order abolishing the Noxubee County school district and putting the state in charge for what could be a number of years.
The move means an interim superintendent named by the state Board of Education will run the 1,600-student district without a local school board until the state hands back control. Officials said they would arrive in Noxubee County on Thursday to take control and host a community meeting later to answer questions. The state has hired Rod Broadnax as interim superintendent, although someone else will temporarily hold the post until Broadnax arrives. Broadnax is currently a superintendent of a 175-student district in South Dakota, having earlier worked in Nevada, Indiana and North Carolina.
State Board of Education members voted last week to ask Bryant to declare the state of emergency. The move came after the district asked for an emergency loan in June. The Noxubee district later withdrew that request, but state school board members said they don't believe the district can manage financial problems. By the time the district withdrew its request, a state audit had found that it was violating 26 of 32 state accrediting standards.
The state has approved loaning up to $2.5 million to the district.
Under state law, the state is supposed to maintain control of the district until it has attained an academic rating of C or higher for five years, or until the state Board of Education decides to return Noxubee County to local control. That's a shift from earlier state takeovers, which aimed to remedy accrediting violations and return a district to local control as quickly as possible, although the process usually took years.
The district will maintain its state accreditation for now, although the state could later move to withdraw it. If that happens, students can transfer to other public school districts willing to take them. After a year without accreditation, interscholastic athletic and extracurricular activities would face mandatory reductions.
The state had considered taking over Noxubee County last year and placing it inside a new achievement school district aimed at improving academic performance. That process stalled, though, when the state never located a superintendent to lead the achievement district.
The state currently controls the Leflore County and Tunica County districts.