West Oktibbeha schools merger proposed

From Press & Staff Reports


Recommendations from the Commission on Starkville Consolidated School District Structure include moving West Oktibbeha Elementary School to fill the West Oktibbeha high school building after the Starkville and Oktibbeha County schools’ scheduled July 2015 merger.

Commissioner and Oktibbeha County supervisors President Orlando Trainer introduced the possibility at the commission’s Dec. 10 meeting. At the time, Trainer noted that many students attending West Elementary, which is in Sturgis, traveled from Maben, where the high school is located. Moving the elementary school to Maben could generate savings in the county schools’ operation, because transportation costs account for a significant portion of the OCSD budget.

The commission met Dec. 23 in Starkville to finalize its consolidation recommendations. Commissioner and OCSD Conservator Margie Pulley confirmed then that many West Elementary students live in or around Maben.

“About 50 percent of those students that are in Sturgis live in Maben,” she said.

The other students, she said, were scattered throughout the west side of the county.

West Oktibbeha County High School also offers structural advantages compared to West Elementary.

Architect Gary Shafer said the high school campus has about 5,000 extra square feet, with 45,000 square feet compared to the elementary school’s 40,000. The Maben school also has seven additional classrooms.

Renovation to the West Oktibbeha Elementary School building, which was built in the 1920s, would require approval from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Retrofitting the WOCHS campus, which is Oktibbeha County School District’s most recently constructed facility, could save the district approximately $130,000 in renovation costs, Shafer told the committee. West Oktibbeha High is the former Maben High School, which was rebuilt after being destroyed by a fire in February 1970.

Short- and long-term renovations for West and East Oktibbeha elementary schools would cost about $5.6 million, he said.

Commissioners revisited the discussion again later in the meeting and ultimately agreed to include moving the elementary school to the West high school building in their recommendation report.

A final report is expected to be complete early this year. The Starkville-Oktibbeha County school merger bill tasked the group to deliver consolidation recommendations to the Legislature by March 1. The Miss. House and Senate both convene their respective sessions next Tuesday.

This report was compiled from articles published Dec. 24 in the Starkville Daily News and The Starkville Dispatch.