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Natchez school board bill dies to elect members
from Staff Reports - NEWS
March 1, 2018 -

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – A Senate-passed bill to transform the Natchez-Adams school board into an elected body has died in the House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 2003 never made it out of the House Education Committee, which had a Tuesday deadline to pass it as the Legislature enters the final month of its annual session.

There appears to be no other legislation alive that could be used to change current state law that has the five school trustees appointed by the Natchez Board of Aldermen and Adams County Board of Supervisors.

"I am afraid that it is dead," said Sen. Bob M. Dearing, D-Natchez, who filed the bill.

The city and county boards requested the bill as local taxpayers’ objections pile up against a multimillion-dollar school construction plan being pushed by the currently appointed school board.

The state Senate in January passed the bill to let Natchez-Adams County voters elect five school board members beginning 2019 to four-year terms. Natchez aldermen and Adams County supervisors in the past few years have been asking the Mississippi Legislature for this, but such a bill has never passed the House and Senate.

This year’s legislation comes as the current school board is advancing plans to fund a school-construction plan that has encountered much resistance. Natchez-Adams County voters last May voted down a $45 million building proposition partially paid for by a property tax increase.

After the referendum, the school board moved forward with a revised plan using alternative financial sources now being considered in court.

An Adams County chancery judge is reviewing the $34 million tax-and-lease bond package the Natchez-Adams School District Board of Trustees is seeking to get validated. An April hearing has been scheduled in chancery court for the two separate school-construction finance measures. An earlier estimate had about 400 objections filed in each court case.

NASD officials are planning a new high school that’s been estimated to cost about $23 million to build. It’s to replace the current facility that was built in 1961. It’s considered outdated and in need of millions of dollars for renovations. | © 2014 | All Rights Reserved
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