The Meridian Public School District has a rich history of people, facilities and events. Under the leadership of such visionary educators as Dr. H. M. Ivy and Dr. L. O. Todd, the system of education grew from its 1895-96 graduating class of 14 to become a leading educational power both in the state and across the southeastern region. The history of the buildings shows attention given to planning for instructional practices. The listing of superintendents exemplifies educators who have earned accolades in their field. The "firsts" of Meridian Public School District in programs and practices evidence the vision of the early educators which continues to this day.
Several important occurrences have worked to shape the Meridian Public School District. Most notably, the 30-year superintendency of Dr. H. M. Ivy propelled the district into the forefront with such "firsts" as a district retirement system, the addition of standardized testing, remedial instruction, school music programs, and drivers' education. During Dr. Ivy's tenure, new schools were constructed and annexes were built for several other schools. Librarians were hired for the schools, and the football stadium was constructed. A community based junior college was begun on the campus of Meridian High School with the addition of the 13th grade in 1934. The 14th grade was added the next year. The Ross Collins Vocational Building was constructed in 1938 to bring career education into the total educational program. Under the leadership of W. L. Newton, the vocational curriculum changed the lives of many high school students, as well as women being trained for jobs during wartime and, later, completing the education of returning GIs.
Perhaps the most significant aspect in favor of the Meridian Public School District is the willingness of the population to work for the common good. The talent of the administrators to project the vision, the ability of the teachers and staff to make it happen in the classrooms and the willingness of the citizens to support the schools through both finances and personal support combine to make the district's efforts at educating children successful. During the desegregation years, following the federal legislation of 1969, the transition to the integration of schools was facilitated due to existing programs in both black and white schools. The district became dependent on a larger transportation system which was needed to cross the district territory.
The seventies and eighties saw a community whose demographic changes were reflected in the school population. Changes in instruction were also made to reflect curriculum trends. A system of in-service training was implemented to provide continuous renewal for faculty and staff. Although no new school buildings were built, extensive renovation, with the addition of air conditioning to the school buildings, was done during 1983-84.
During the past 20 years, administrators have worked to ensure that the Meridian Public School District practices are linked to the mission of offering students a variety of programs and experiences toward an educationally sound future. Such changes were key in the decision to close several schools: Mt. Barton, Highland, Wechsler, and Marion Park Elementary schools.