Senate bill defines how schools can regain control after takeover

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The Senate passed a bill Tuesday that clarifies how school districts taken over by the state for academic underperformance or financial problems can regain local control.

The bill changes the school conservatorship process to mandate that school districts rated “D” or “F” must maintain a “C” or higher rating for five consecutive years before coming out from under state control. Under current state law, there is no academic requirement for school districts to regain local control.

In cases of financial mishandling, the Mississippi Department of Education could also give local control back to districts that provide a detailed improvement plan, the bill says.

The bill also changes terminology in existing law: the term “conservator” would become “interim superintendent,” and the term “conservator district” to “district of transformation.”

“(The terminology change) would remove any negative connotation of the state taking over a school district,” said Sen. Chris Caughman, R-Mendenhall.

The bill was passed on a voice vote and will move to the House for action. A similar bill in the House, HB 875, would provide the same guidelines for districts.