Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi has approved the state board of education’s recommendation for a full state takeover of the 900-student North Bolivar school district in Shelby about 100 miles southwest of Memphis, Tenn.
The governor, a Republican, gave his blessing last month to the request from state education officials.
State Superintendent of Education Hank M. Bounds said in an interview late last month that the small, rural school system qualified for the takeover after having two of its three schools in “priority” status for two straight years. Only eight schools in Mississippi were considered “priority” schools based on their 2004-05 test scores, Mr. Bounds said.
After sending two audit teams into the district, Mr. Bounds decided to recommend that state officials take control of the school system. The district does not employ properly licensed professionals for all teaching and administrative jobs, the auditors found, and does not report financial data to the state as required. Among many other findings, they also said that the school board doesn’t follow open-meetings laws or allow the superintendent to manage personnel as dictated by state regulations.
North Bolivar school board member Mary Collier called the state takeover necessary, but disagreed with some of the auditors’ findings. “We do have some problems, but it’s not because of the board,” she said. “I feel like we can turn our district around with some additional help.”