Consolidation efforts underway for school districts

By BUSTER WOLFE,

The upcoming voluntary consolidation of the Lamar County and Lumberton school districts has already shown to be productive, according to Transition Administrator Bryan Giles.

Giles, the former Oak Grove Upper Elementary School assistant principal, was tasked with working to make the transition of Lumberton into the Lamar County School District smoother as the two districts combine their services, faculty and students.

As the new school year begins for both districts, Giles said the early stages have involved just getting familiar with the people and processes.

“Right now, I am just getting to know everybody,” he said as he works out of the Lamar County School District offices in Purvis. “We are really in just the preliminary phases now.”

Giles said the two areas that would be most easily merged in the early stages of the consolidation are information technology and food services.

Actually, Lamar County has stepped in to help Lumberton with its food services, he said.

“As we have been looking over the department personnel and staff, the Lumberton Food Services director found a better job somewhere else,” he said.

“We were able to step in and help out.”

Giles said the move only helps consolidation efforts.

“We are already under the impression that we are working together, and Lamar County is helping out Lumberton in the areas that we can” he said.

“There are more resources in Lamar County, so we are assisting anywhere that we can. We are both working toward the same goal and we have to bridge that gap between the two districts. Ultimately, we will be in a phase of the transition that we look at personnel.”

The Lumberton and Lamar County school districts received the go-ahead on the state’s first voluntary consolidation plan from state education leaders in March.

Dr. Linda Smith of Lumberton and Tess Smith of Lamar County were among members of the Commission on Administrative Consolidation of Lumberton School District that went to Jackson to seek the direction of state Senate Education Committee Chairman Gray Tollison.

Tollison, R-Oxford, wrote the bill calling for abolishing the Lumberton School District and dividing students between Poplarville and Lamar County school districts according to the county lines.

The proposal by the Lamar County School Board brings the Lumberton schools under the direction of the Lamar County School District and keeps the current footprint.

The changes will occur during the 2018-19 school year.