Valley Park family moving to stay in Warren schools

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 23, 2000

Arleen Bridges and her family are moving to Vicksburg so her two children can stay at the school they’ve attended for four years.

Bridges was notified this month by the Vicksburg Warren School District that her children, 16-year-old Ashley Collins and 18-year-old Koury Collins, would no longer be allowed to attend Warren County schools because they live in Valley Park, which is in Issaquena County. Bridges and her family live 4 1/2 miles from the Warren County line.

“When I got the letter at the beginning of August I didn’t think it was real,” Bridges said. “I thought maybe it was a joke.”

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Superintendent Donald Oakes said state law restricts students living within 30 miles of the public school in their district from crossing lines.

In the Collinses’ case, the teen-agers would have to enroll at South Delta High School.

Oakes said he and other school representatives rode a bus from Valley Park to the Rolling Fork school to measure the distance.

“It was 27.5 miles, so there is no getting around it,” he said. “This is a state law that has always been in effect, but I guess some people fell through the cracks over the years,” Oakes said.

He said 14 students in the Valley Park area were told they can’t attend Warren County schools anymore.

“I understand how these people feel, but I don’t have any choice,” he said.

Bridges, who has lived in Valley Park most of her life, said she has mixed feelings about moving to Vicksburg.

“It was kind of a hard decision to move, but it will be better in some ways,” she said. “It’s not really anybody’s fault.”

Bridges said her main concern is keeping her children at Warren Central.

“Ashley is a junior and in the color guard and Koury is a senior, so I didn’t want them to have to go somewhere else,” she said. “We are moving Saturday so the kids can stay, and that’s what matters.”

Oakes said there is one exception to the 30-mile rule.

“If your parent works for the school district, then you can go to school here even if you don’t live in Warren County,” he said.

He said he wasn’t sure how many of the district’s 9,081 students live in other counties.

“It is hard to give an exact figure because not only the children of teachers but any employee including bus drivers are exempt from the rule,” Oakes said.

Oakes said he will continue to watch for violations of the law.

“I’m sure there are more children out there that we don’t know about,” he said.

Mary Dykes, a secretary at South Delta High School, said about 1,600 students are enrolled in Sharkey Issaquena public schools.