Consultants say 18 Mississippi school districts could be improved by merging with higher performing districts, generally their neighbors.
The 18 have small enrollments. Many are in low-income areas and have higher than average per-pupil administrative costs. Several are in northern Mississippi and the Delta.
The 18 districts consultants identified for possible mergers with others are: Aberdeen, Benoit, Coahoma County, Coffeeville, Drew, East Jasper, Hazlehurst, Hollandale, Indianola, Jefferson Davis County, Kemper County, Montgomery County, North Panola, Okolona, Oktibbeha County, Quitman County, Shaw and West Tallahatchie.
Denver-based consultants presented their findings Monday to a school-consolidation commission appointed by Gov. Haley Barbour.
Mississippi has 149 districts and three agricultural high schools. Consultants also say the agriculture schools should be merged with neighboring districts.
Editor's note: The online version of this story is correct. The original Associated Press version, aired on WTOK's broadcast channel, left out a key word that made that version of the story incorrect. What was published by A.P. as 'Quitman' should have read 'Quitman County'.