In what they say will save the county millions of dollars, a citizen’s group plans to argue school district consolidation before the Bay St. Louis City Council on Tuesday night.
Ron Thorp with the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government, a non-elected, political watchdog group, is spearheading a campaign to save taxpayer money by combining the Bay-Waveland and Hancock County school districts into one.
So far, Thorp has met with government and school officials throughout Hancock County.
“Consolidation is good for everyone, the students, teachers and taxpayers,” he said.
Thorp argues the county could save at least $6 to $10 million a year if the Bay-Waveland School District merged with the Hancock County School District. He said consolidation would not affect the academic performance of the schools. Most of the savings would come in administrative costs, he said.
“They’re about the same size. They’re both good school districts by Mississippi standards, and really are quite comparable in every way such as academics,” he said.
Common arguments against school consolidation are that it eliminates the individual culture, community and history of the school district.
Lana Noonan, also an alliance member, said now is a good time to float the idea of consolidation since the Bay-Waveland School District hasn’t hired a superintendent replacement for Rebecca Ladner, who announced she was stepping down in August. Vikki Landry has been serving as interim superintendent until a replacement is named.
Thorp said he has met opposition to the consolidation; however, “when people hear about the numbers involved, there’s some legitimate interest out there,” he said.
Thorp and the alliance plan to meet with Diamondhead and Waveland officials in the near future. Tuesday night will be the second time the alliance presents its argument to the Bay council.
Officials from Hancock County School District and Bay-Waveland School did not immediately return calls for comment.