It’s time again for consolidation

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 28, 2014

This week I had the opportunity to attend a Vicksburg Warren School District Board of Trustees meeting. It was my first such board meeting in several years.
I’ve been to several different board meetings in the past and some have a tendency to drag on and on with every item on the agenda being discussed and debated until finally approved, denied or tabled for later discussion. However, District 1 trustee and board president Bryan Pratt does a good job of moving the meetings along.
The one thing that stuck out the most to me was the partisanship that exists. Not along racial lines, but along school loyalty lines. The colors red and green run deep and it’s no secret who favors which school.
In 1987 the city and county school districts consolidated forming one district, yet 27 years later those lines still exist. City and county loyalties to this observer are a wedge that keeps the Vicksburg Warren School District from being everything that it can be.
Our schools are far from where they need to be. If we want them to compete with the Madison and Tupelo school districts then perhaps it is time to consider another round of consolidation. This time from two distinct high schools to one unified high school with state-of-the-art facilities.
Vicksburg High is nearly 80 years old if not older and Warren Central is pushing 40. Some of our elementary schools date from the Art-Deco period of architecture. How can we afford to provide our students with the kind of technology that would allow them to compete for STEM related jobs when maintenance costs for aging facilities continue to soar?
Many other districts in Mississippi continue to purchase the latest technology for their students and every day that we don’t our students fall farther behind. Textbooks are soon-to-be if not already antiquated and extremely costly to replace. The world moves at a much faster pace than it did 10 years ago.
I want to see our schools succeed and to compete both academically and athletically with the best in our state.
It’s admirable to continue to show school spirit long after you’ve left the halls of your high school, but is it worth the cost of our community’s future?

Paul Barry is the managing editor and can be reached by email at or by phone at 601-636-4545 ext. 123.

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