Public agitation has grown since Oktibbeha County School District filed legal announcements this month stating its intention to take on debt in lieu of construction needs associated with 2015’s state-mandated consolidation with Starkville School District.

If approved, the bonds are expected to at least finance the construction of a grades 6-7 demonstration school at Mississippi State University and could possibly assist the planned joint school district-university pre-kindergarten initiative.

But a tax increase could have a serious impact on county homeowners since only residents within OCSD’s territory — not those who live in Starkville and SSD’s extended area — would shoulder the debt service’s burden.

Earlier this year, Mississippi legislators approved a new consolidation bill that authorized OCSD Conservator Margie Pulley to proceed with acquiring local funds for construction efforts through the use of a reverse referendum.

The bill said Pulley can execute a bond unless 20 percent of qualified, OCSD-residing voters petition to put the issuance up for a countywide vote. Residents have until noon Jan. 13 to file a petition at OCSD’s Main Street headquarters. If they don’t, a hearing in which OCSD begins the bonding process is expected to follow.

Aubrey Ray, a Sturgis resident and former teacher-turned-school superintendent, and Dennis Daniels, who will qualify for next year’s District 3 county supervisor race, began collecting signatures Monday in an effort to stop the process they described as taxation without representation.

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