Moss Point alderman suggest county school consolidation

Moss Point alderman suggest county school consolidation
(Photo Source: WLOX News)

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Hancock County officials are considering consolidating the county's school districts, and now one Moss Point alderman is suggesting Jackson County do the same.

Moss Point Alderman Wayne Lennep says it might be a good idea for all Jackson County school districts to consider combining - at least at the administrative level. He says his interest comes from seeing some districts scraping for funding and resources, while others are getting a big chunk of the county's tax revenue.

"I had seen where Mr. Thorp and a committee there in Bay St. Louis and Hancock County had been studying the issue," Lennep said.

The Ward 6 alderman says Hancock County could be on to something. Over the weekend, he took to social media with his thoughts. In a post on a Facebook page he manages to keep those who live in his ward informed, Lennep suggested Jackson County explore consolidating its school districts, too.

"I am really concerned about the amount of local tax revenue that's available for our schools and the disproportionate way it seems to be divided up," Lennep said.

Currently, there are four independent districts in the county: Moss Point, Ocean Springs, Jackson County, and Pascagoula-Gautier.

"We have about $113 million in Jackson County that's spent just in local tax revenue, not looking at state or federal, and almost half of that goes to one district," Lennep said.

That one district is Pascagoula-Gautier. Lennep says they get 45-50 percent of that revenue.

"Because the largest industries are in that district," Lennep added.

Lennep said the tax burden in the other three districts falls heavily on small businesses. He says consolidation could alleviate the problem.

"Everybody would still go to the same school, it wouldn't change anything in that matter, it would be administrative consolidations," Lennep said.

The comments on his post come from both sides, but most agree they'd like to see a plan before jumping to any conclusions.

Lennep said it's just something he'd like considered.

"It sparked my interest that there may be a good thing going there as far as finding ways to save money, be more efficient without money," Lennep said.

Lennep said with 24,000 students in the county, he's not sure if consolidating down to just one district and superintendent would work. He said he's hoping, like Hancock County, that school administrators get on board to discuss the option and figure out if this is what's best for students.

The state Supreme Court also recently ruled that the Pascagoula-Gautier School District must be part of any tax hearings involving Chevron.

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