The Senate passed two school consolidation bills on Thursday.

Senate Bill 2463 would administratively consolidate the Chickasaw County and Houston Municipal school districts effective July 1, 2019.

Senate Bill 2461 would consolidate the Perry County and Richton school districts.

Both proposals were made for small school districts that Senate Education Chairman Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, said could benefit from economies of scale.

Combining Chickasaw County School District, which only has about 500 students, with Houston, would create one school district of 2,200 students.

“This would create an opportunity for them to maybe look at some other options with their school or school building and would certainly create some economies of scale and draw down their administrative costs,” Tollison said of Chickasaw County, which lost a school building in a fire recently.

Perry County and Richton School Districts will also be administratively consolidated, but the move will not affect any school buildings or where students are enrolled, Tollison said.

“Again, we’re looking at economies of scale here. The districts are similar in terms of academics, they’re both C’s,” Tollison explained. “It again makes good business sense to consolidate the administrative functions without changing school locations.”

Both bills passed without any discussion on the floor.

The Legislature has been consolidating school districts with small or declining enrollment and chronic academic underperformance for several years.

Last year, it passed four consolidations: Holmes County and Durant; Winona and Montgomery; Lumberton School District and adjoining districts; and Leflore County and Greenwood districts.

Legislative leaders have spoken about how they see school consolidations as a means of reducing administrative costs, thereby pushing more state education funding into classrooms.

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Kate Royals is a Jackson native and returned to Mississippi Today as the lead education reporter after serving in the same capacity from 2016 to 2018. Prior to that, she was a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger covering education and state government. She won awards for her investigative work, including stories about the state’s campaign finance laws and prison system. She was a news producer at MassLive in Springfield, Mass., after graduating from Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communications with a master’s degree in communications.