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Bolivar County Consolidation

Senate Bill 2760
(As Sent to Governor)

AN ACT TO CODIFY SECTION 37-7-104.1, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT IN BOLIVAR COUNTY THERE SHALL BE AN ADMINISTRATIVE CONSOLIDATION INTO TWO SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO BE DESIGNATED AS NORTH BOLIVAR CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL DISTRICT AND WEST BOLIVAR CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL DISTRICT; TO AUTHORIZE AND DIRECT THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION TO DEVELOP AND PROMULGATE A CONSOLIDATION ORDER FOR THE SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN SAID COUNTY UNDER CERTAIN STANDARDS; TO PROVIDE FOR TWO NEW BOARDS OF TRUSTEES TO BE ELECTED IN SUCH CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL DISTRICT IN A NOVEMBER 2013 SPECIAL ELECTION; TO DIRECT THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION TO ADMINISTRATIVELY CONSOLIDATE ANY SCHOOL DISTRICT WHICH DOES NOT VOLUNTARILY FOLLOW THE CONSOLIDATION ORDER; TO ABOLISH THE FORMER SCHOOL BOARDS FOLLOWING THE ADMINISTRATIVE CONSOLIDATION AND PROVIDE FOR THE TRANSFER OF SCHOOL DISTRICT ASSETS AND LIABILITIES; TO PROVIDE FOR EXECUTION OF TEACHER AND SCHOOL DISTRICT EMPLOYEE CONTRACTS IN THE NEW SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE PREPARATION OF SCHOOL DISTRICT BUDGETS IN THE NEW SCHOOL DISTRICTS; TO DIRECT THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION TO PROMULGATE REGULATIONS TO IMPLEMENT SUCH ADMINISTRATIVE CONSOLIDATION; TO AMEND SECTION 37-7-103, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, IN CONFORMITY; TO AMEND SECTION 37-27-79, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO DIRECT THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION TO DEVELOP A REPORT WITH RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE ADMINISTRATIVE CONSOLIDATION OF THE STATE'S AGRICULTURAL HIGH SCHOOLS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.

     BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:

     SECTION 1.  The following shall be codified as Section 37-7-104.1, Mississippi Code of 1972:

     37-7-104.1.  (1)  In Bolivar County, Mississippi, in which are located, as of January 1, 2012, six (6) school districts, there shall be an administrative consolidation of all of the school districts in the county into three (3) school districts as follows:

          (a)  One (1) existing school district which shall be the Cleveland Municipal Separate School District;

          (b)  One (1) new consolidated school district to be designated as North Bolivar Consolidated School District which shall consist of the territory of the former North Bolivar School District and the Mound Bayou Public School District.  The central administrative office of the North Bolivar Consolidated School District shall be located in Mound Bayou, Mississippi; and

          (c)  One (1) new consolidated school district to be designated as West Bolivar Consolidated School District which shall consist of the territory of the former West Bolivar School District, Shaw School District and Benoit School District.  The central administrative office of the West Bolivar Consolidated School District shall be located in Rosedale, Mississippi.

     (2)  On or before September 1, 2012, the State Board of Education shall serve the local school boards in Bolivar County with notice and instructions regarding the timetable for action to be taken to comply with the administrative consolidation required in this section.  The State Board of Education shall provide for the administrative consolidation of all school districts in the county outside of the territory of Cleveland Municipal Separate School District into North Bolivar Consolidated School District and West Bolivar Consolidated School District on or before July 1, 2014.  In each new consolidated school district there shall be a new consolidated school district board of trustees elected in a November 2013 special election which shall be called by the Governor for that purpose.  The new consolidated school district boards of trustees shall be elected and the terms of office established as provided in Section 37-7-207, Mississippi Code of 1972.  The State Board of Education shall determine the boundary lines for the territory of the two (2) new school districts and shall spread a legal description of the new school districts on the minutes of its August 2012 meeting and shall serve the applicable school boards and the board of supervisors with an adequate legal description of these new boundaries.  It shall be the responsibility of the State Board of Education with the assistance of the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER) to apportion the territory of the two (2) new school districts into five (5) new board of trustee election districts for each new school district.  The State Board of Education shall thereafter publish the same in some newspaper of general circulation in said county for at least three (3) consecutive weeks and after having given notice of publication and recording the same upon the minutes of the school boards of each school district in the county, said new district lines will thereafter be effective for the November 2013 special election.  Any school board member of the former school district residing in the proper election district shall be eligible for election to the new board of trustees for North Bolivar Consolidated School District or West Bolivar Consolidated School District.  The local school board of each new school district shall reapportion the school board districts in accordance with the procedure described in Section 37-7-207, Mississippi Code of 1972, as is necessary as soon as practicable after the 2020 decennial census are published and as soon as practicable after every decennial census thereafter.  Any school district affected by the required administrative consolidation in such county that does not voluntarily consolidate with the two (2) new school districts ordered by the State Board of Education shall be administratively consolidated by the State Board of Education with the appropriate school district in which such district is located, to be effective on July 1 following the election of the new local school boards.  The State Board of Education shall promptly move on its own motion to administratively consolidate a school district which does not voluntarily consolidate in order to enable the affected school districts to reasonably accomplish the resulting administrative consolidation into two (2) school districts by July 1 following the election of the new school boards.  All affected school districts shall comply with any consolidation order issued by the State Board of Education on or before July 1 following the election of the new school boards.

     (3)  On July 1 following the election of the new school district boards of trustees in Bolivar County, the former county board of education and the former board of trustees of North Bolivar School District, Mound Bayou Public School District, West Bolivar School District, Shaw School District and Benoit School District shall be abolished.  All real and personal property which is owned or titled in the name of a school district located in such former school district shall be transferred to the new reorganized school district of Bolivar County in which such former school district is located.  Each former school board shall be responsible for establishing the contracts for teachers and principals for the next school year following the required administrative consolidation with the consultation of the newly elected successor school boards.  The new Board of Trustees for the North Bolivar Consolidated School District shall appoint the Superintendent of Schools for said school district, and the Board of Trustees for the West Bolivar Consolidated School District shall appoint the Superintendent of Schools for said school district.  The subsequent superintendent of schools of said reorganized school districts shall not be elected but shall thereafter be appointed by the successor boards of trustees in the manner provided in Section 37-9-25.  Any superintendent serving in the former school districts shall be eligible for appointment as a superintendent in North Bolivar Consolidated School District or West Bolivar Consolidated School District.  North Bolivar Consolidated School District and West Bolivar Consolidated School District shall not have more than one (1) assistant superintendent.  It shall be the responsibility of the successor boards of trustees to prepare and approve the budget of the respective new reorganized districts, and the successor boards of trustees may use staff from the former school districts to prepare the budget.  Any proposed order of the State Board of Education directing the transfer of the assets, real or personal property of an affected school district in the county, shall be final and conclusive for the purposes of the transfer of property required by such administrative consolidation.  Any person or school district aggrieved by an order of the successor newly elected board of trustees of a consolidated school district pursuant to the required administrative consolidation may appeal therefrom to the State Board of Education within ten (10) days from the date of the adjournment of the meeting at which such order is entered.  Such appeal shall be de novo, and the finding of the State Board of Education upon such question shall be final and conclusive for the purpose of the approval or disapproval of the action by said county board of education.

     (4)  When any school district in such county is abolished under the provisions of this section, the abolition thereof shall not impair or release the property of such former school district from liability for the payment of the bonds or other indebtedness of such district.

     (5)  Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the closing of any school or school facility, unless such facility is an unneeded administrative office located within a school district which has been abolished under the provisions of this section.  All administrative consolidations under this section shall be accomplished so as not to delay or in any manner negatively affect the desegregation of another school district in the county pursuant to court order.

     (6)  The State Board of Education shall promulgate rules and regulations to facilitate the administrative consolidation of the school districts in Bolivar County pursuant to this section.  The consolidated districts shall make an election within one (1) year of consolidation concerning the group term life insurance described in subsection (7) of Section 25-15-9.  When the orders of the State Board of Education adopting the boundaries of the successor school districts and the successor board of trustees election districts have been entered and are final, as directed by the State Board of Education, the new district lines shall be submitted by the State Board of Education with the assistance of the Attorney General to the Attorney General of the United States for preclearance or to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for a declaratory judgment in accordance with the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended.  In the event the change in the school district lines and election districts are precleared or approved, the State Board of Education shall formally declare the new lines as the new boundaries of the successor school districts.

     SECTION 2.  Section 37-7-103, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

     37-7-103.  From and after July 1, 1987, the school board of any school district shall have full jurisdiction, power and authority, at any regular meeting thereof or at any special meeting called for that purpose, to abolish such existing district, or to reorganize, change or alter the boundaries of any such district.  In addition thereto, with the consent of the school board of the school district involved, the school board may add to such school district any part of the school district adjoining same, and with the consent of the school board of the school district involved, may detach territory from such school district and annex same to an adjoining district.  Provided, however, that the consent of the school board of the school districts involved in implementing the provisions of Section 37-7-104, 37-7-104.1, or Section 37-27-79, Mississippi Code of 1972, shall not be required for the administrative consolidation of such school districts pursuant to the order of the State Board of Education.

     SECTION 3.  Section 37-27-79, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

     37-27-79.  (1)  The State Board of Education shall review and develop a report relating to the need for a separate board of trustees and separate administrative office for the Coahoma Agricultural High School, the Forrest Agricultural High School and the Hinds Agricultural High School and shall submit this finding with recommendations for any necessary legislation to the Chairmen of the Senate and House Education Committees on or before December 1, 2012, for consideration in the 2013 Regular Session.  Said report shall include any necessary recommendations for the consolidation and transfer of administrative offices, transfer of real and personal property, and transfer of students from such agricultural high school to the appropriate school district.

     (2)  Any agricultural high school in this state (whether maintained by one (1) county or more than one (1) county) may be abolished when twenty percent (20%) of the qualified electors residing in such county or counties shall file a petition with the board of supervisors or boards of supervisors of such county or counties, and request that such school be abolished.  Thereupon, the question shall be submitted to an election of the qualified electors of the county or counties within not less than thirty (30) days nor more than sixty (60) days after the next meeting of the board of supervisors or boards of supervisors after the filing of the petition.  At such election said electors may vote for abolishing the agricultural high school or against abolishing the agricultural high school.  If a majority of the votes cast in such election be in favor of abolishing such school, then such school shall be abolished.  If less than a majority of those voting fail to vote for abolishing such school then it shall not be abolished but shall be supported and maintained as now provided by law.  When an election is called under this section and the school is not abolished, then another election cannot be held for a period of two (2) years.

     SECTION 4.  The Attorney General of the State of Mississippi shall submit this act, immediately upon approval by the Governor, or upon approval by the Legislature subsequent to a veto, to the Attorney General of the United States or to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in accordance with the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended.

     SECTION 5.  This act shall take effect and be in force from and after the date it is effectuated under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended.

To comment about this new law, please e-mail mkent@mde.k12.ms.us or mail to:

Attention: Mike Kent
Mississippi Department of Education
359 North West Street
Jackson, MS  39201

Office of SLDS Grants     P.O. Box 771     Jackson, MS 39205-0771     Phone: (601) 359-5254

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