Suspect arrested in Ole Miss student’s death

Panola County elementary school to close

PANOLA COUNTY, Miss. — After years of declining attendance, staffing challenges and low performance, the decision has been made to close Crenshaw Elementary in Crenshaw, Mississippi.

The vote to consolidate students at Crenshaw with two schools in Panola County was made Tuesday night. Though some expected it would happen, the news was especially hard for one student we talked with today.

"I really like this school," said 8-year-old Zummaria Banks, a third grader at Crenshaw Elementary School. "Ever since kindergarten, I've been in this school, and I really love it."

Tuesday night, the North Panola School District voted to consolidate Crenshaw's 88 students with two other Panola County schools 23 miles away.

Kindergarten through second grade will attend Green Hill Intermediate in Sardis.

That's not what Zummarie's grandmother wanted to hear.

"Now that i am speaking to you and hearing it from you, I guess it's going to sink in now. Because they was really trying to not let it happen," Patricia Banks said.

Superintendent Cedric Richardson declined an on-camera interview but sent an e-mail citing "continued difficulty finding certified personnel due to the geographical (rural) location even after offering a sign on bonus for new teachers."

For Zummarie, the move means leaving friends and teachers behind, but not her dream of succeeding.

Wednesday afternoon we were told a group of concerned citizens is protesting the vote to close the school.

The Crenshaw Elementary building will become a community center, providing outreach program.

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