2005 Regular Session
To: Education; Appropriations
By: Representative Ellis
AN ACT TO CREATE A NEW CODE SECTION TO REQUIRE THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION TO CONSOLIDATE CERTAIN SCHOOL DISTRICTS WITHIN INDIVIDUAL COUNTIES INTO COUNTYWIDE SCHOOL DISTRICTS; TO PRESCRIBE THE METHOD OF ELECTING SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS AND SELECTING SUPERINTENDENTS FOR THE NEW COUNTYWIDE DISTRICTS; TO PRESCRIBE THE MANNER OF ESTABLISHING TEACHER CONTRACTS AND PREPARING A BUDGET FOR THE FIRST SCHOOL YEAR FOLLOWING CREATION OF A COUNTYWIDE SCHOOL DISTRICT; TO REQUIRE THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION TO PROVIDE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE, SUBJECT TO LEGISLATIVE APPROPRIATIONS, TO SCHOOL DISTRICTS THAT CONSOLIDATE INTO A COUNTYWIDE SCHOOL DISTRICT; TO LIMIT THE TOTAL SUMS ALLOTTED FOR CONSOLIDATION IN ANY SINGLE COUNTY TO $5,000,000.00; TO REQUIRE THE SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO USE SUCH FUNDS FOR THE TRANSITION TO A COUNTYWIDE DISTRICT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, in each county having more than one (1) school district and at least one (1) school district with less than two thousand five hundred (2,500) students situated within that county on the effective date of this section, the State Board of Education shall require the consolidation of all such school districts into one (1) school district, which shall have the same boundaries as that of the county. All school boards that consolidate their school districts shall adopt new district lines by order and immediately proceed to take all actions necessary to create one (1) school district within the county.
(2) When all the school districts within a county are required to consolidate and the order of each school board adopting the new lines has been entered and is final, all orders shall be submitted to the State Board of Education. The State Board of Education shall submit the new district lines to the Attorney General of the United States for preclearance or to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for a declaratory judgment in accordance with the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended. If the change in the school district lines are either precleared by the United States Department of Justice, or approved by the United States District Court, the State Board of Education shall formally declare the new lines as the new boundaries of the countywide school district.
(3) Upon preclearance of the countywide consolidation, all school boards shall approve a joint resolution for the election of five (5) new board members from single-member districts as provided by Sections 37-7-225 through 37-7-229. These elections shall be scheduled before May 1 of the year in which the consolidation is to become effective. The superintendent of any countywide district created through consolidation shall be appointed if all of the school districts that are consolidating previously had appointed their superintendents. The superintendent of any countywide district created through consolidation shall be elected if all of the school districts that are consolidating previously had elected their superintendents. In the event two (2) or more school districts consolidating under this section previously had appointed one or more superintendents and elected the remainder, the superintendent shall be elected or appointed in accordance with the method utilized by the consolidating school district with the larger or largest student population. The superintendent shall begin work as the superintendent on July 1 of the year when the consolidation becomes effective. The order required under subsection (1) of this section shall invalidate the contracts of the superintendents of the preceding districts and shall terminate the term of the superintendent if that person was elected. The order shall invalidate the term of any school board member beyond July 1 of that year whether he is elected or appointed. Any school board member from any school district may be eligible to run for election to the new consolidated school board.
(4) Each school board shall be responsible for establishing the contracts for teachers and principals for the next school year with the consultation of the successor countywide school board if they have been selected at the time such decisions are to be made. The selection of administrator in the central administration office shall be the responsibility of the successor school board. No existing dates for renewal of contracts shall invalidate the responsibility of the successor countywide school board in taking such action. The successor countywide school board may enter into these contracts at any time following their election, but no later than July 1 of that year. Further, it shall be the responsibility of the successor school board to prepare and approve the budget of the new countywide district. The successor countywide school board may use staff from the existing districts to prepare the budget. The countywide school board shall have authority to approve the budget before the July 1 date and shall follow the time line established for budget preparation under the law. Should any district at the time of consolidation have more liabilities than assets, then the successor countywide school board may levy an ad valorem tax upon the taxable property in the territory of the district where the deficit exists, not to exceed five percent (5%) of the existing tax levy, for the sole purpose of reducing the deficit. When the deficit is eliminated, then such tax levy shall be terminated. Any taxes levied to bring about the equalization of funding, to equalize pay scales or levied in the territory of a newly created countywide district where a deficit exists, shall constitute a "new program" for the purposes of ad valorem tax limitations as prescribed in Sections 27-39-321 and 37-57-107.
SECTION 2. Subject to appropriations by the Legislature, in order to consolidate all school districts that have at least one (1) school district with less than two thousand five hundred (2,500) students situated within a county into a single, countywide school district, the State Board of Education shall provide financial assistance to the consolidating school districts in an amount to be established by the state board for each student in average daily attendance in the county. Upon receipt of the order of each school board within a county adopting the new district lines under Section 1 of this act, the State Board of Education shall allot to the school districts such sums that in the aggregate do not exceed Five Million Dollars ($5,000,000.00) per county. The total amount allotted to the school districts within a single county shall be prorated among the various districts based upon each district's average daily attendance. Each school district shall use the funds to facilitate the transition to the countywide school district. All funds not expended by the various school districts before the successor countywide school district becomes effective shall be used by the new countywide district for initial costs of operation as a countywide school district.
SECTION 3. This act shall be codified as a separate code section in Title 37, Chapter 7, Mississippi Code of 1972.
SECTION 4. The Attorney General of the State of Mississippi is directed to submit this act, immediately upon approval by the Governor, or upon approval by the Legislature subsequent to a veto, to the Attorney General of the United States or to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in accordance with the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended.
SECTION 5. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after the date it is effectuated under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended.