Duck Hill officials study closing school

Board members await final report from the Mississippi Department of Education office of Financial Accountability before making the decision regarding the school.
School Board officials in Montgomery County are still studying what effects the closing of Duck Hill Elementary School would have on their school system.

According to Montgomery County school superintendent Carolyn Swanson, the last School Board meeting was held earlier this month at Duck Hill instead of in Winona. Discussion of the school closing issue centered around the high cost of keeping the Duck Hill Elementary School open, Swanson said. “I proposed that we close it, but the board took no action on the matter,” she said.

Swanson said board members want to see the final report by the Mississippi Department of Education office of Financial Accountability before making a decision regarding the school.

The study, which was started in November of 2001, will address student/teacher ratios, transportation issues (including bus routes), and heating and cooling costs for the Montgomery County School District.

Foresee closing

As an educator, Swanson says she knows Duck Hill residents want to keep their school, but as an administrator, she can foresee the school closing in the near future. “It’s gotten to the point of being a business decision,” she said. “We’re probably the third smallest school district in the state, operating on a shoestring budget.”

For 99 or 100 students at the Duck Hill Elementary School, Swanson said the District is paying for a full cadre of administrative and support personnel, including cafeteria and janitorial positions. “Transportation is also a major cost,” she said. “We bus students to Duck Hill and we bus students from Duck Hill to Kilmichael.”

Swanson said the whole subject is an emotional one for local residents. “Any time a community has a school, they want to keep it,” she said. “It hurts a lot of people. There is no easy decision.”

The Kilmichael Elementary School at one time had about 1,000 students, but currently has only 366 children attending, Swanson said. “There is plenty of room for the Duck Hill students in that building,” she said.

Town use building

In the event the Duck Hill school does close, Swanson said she would like to see the town apply for use of the building. Besides its architectural interest, she said it has a nice auditorium, gymnasium, and playground facilities.

The next meeting of the Montgomery County School Board will be held in the Superintendent’s office at Winona, on Tuesday, February 12, at 5:30 p.m..

©The Daily Sentinel Star 2007

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