BoE cautioned on closing E. Fayette

Tue, 11/27/2007 - 4:42pm
By: John Thompson

BoE cautioned on closing E. Fayette

The Fayette County School System could face a loss of state funds if East Fayette Elementary is closed.

That was just one of the revelations during a nearly three-hour meeting of the Fayette County Board of Education Monday night. The board was meeting to discuss the proposed new district lines for the elementary schools and spent a large part of the meeting discussing the future of Fayette’s oldest school.

“Normally, something as big as closing or repurposing a school would come out of a strategic planning meeting. I don’t think we can even start discussing the maps until we decide what we do with that school,” said board Chairman Terri Smith.

Assistant Superintendent of Operations Lyn Wenzel told the board that East Fayette could be used to house the system’s involuntary alternative school, along with the school nutrition program and after-school program.

Board member Janet Smola wanted to know what would be done with the cafeteria at East Fayette and Wenzel replied that it would be used to feed the alternative students at the school and would also be used for the system’s nutrition program.

“We spent a million dollars on that kitchen to turn it into a training facility?” questioned Smola.

School officials also said that closing the school would result in an annual savings of $644,000 in administrative salaries, but some board members questioned whether the facility would not have to be re-opened in five years if the growth rate in the county started surging again.

But one of the more interesting analyses of the situation came from Facilities Director Mike Satterfield. Satterfield explained the state has 37 instructional units classified for East Fayette. He said the state allows an analysis done by the schools system to determine if the school is viable.

Using the state’s very-low limit of construction costs at $64 per square foot, the system’s analysis would have to show the school could not be upgraded to the newer elementary prototype for under $4.6 million.

If the school could be upgraded for less than that amount, and the school is closed, the state would still consider the 37 instructional units in open inventory and would be reluctant to fund additional classrooms if growth picks back up.

“Down the road, it could hurt us,” he said.

A cost analysis of the upgrade would probably take two to three months to complete, which would be after the system voted on the issue.

Chairman Smith compiled her own spreadsheet on the system’s capacity and said she believes the school system will probably need another elementary school in five years and said the only areas of declining population that she saw was around Braelinn, Peeples and Oak Grove Elementary schools.

One of the more talkative members on the committee that decided the boundary maps is Cele Eifert, who told the board that there is not enough information to close East Fayette.

With more questions still left to be answered, the board decided to go ahead with a public hearing on the boundaries Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. at the McIntosh High School auditorium in Peachtree City. The school system released the following guidelines for Monday’s hearing:

• Parents and community members wishing to address the board will need to sign up before the meeting begins. There will be a sign-in sheet located on a table outside the auditorium. Only those who sign up will be allowed to address the board. Speakers will proceed to speak in the order they signed up.

• Each speaker will be limited to three minutes at the podium. A time limit is necessary in order to ensure that everyone who wishes to address the board has an opportunity to do so.

• The hearing will start promptly at 7 p.m. at which time the first speakers will be called to address the board. Sign-in sheets will remain at the front entrance to the auditorium until 7 p.m. at which time they will be removed and given to the board.

• Neighborhoods should select one representative to speak on behalf of a group that supports the same idea. There may be multiple representatives from one neighborhood if there are differing viewpoints.

• Since the board will function only in a listening capacity, it is suggested that speakers avoid asking questions. Instead, speakers should make specific comments or suggestions regarding the proposed boundary maps. Staff or committee members may answer broad or general questions if necessary.

• Negative comments about neighborhoods, students, personnel or schools are to be withheld.

• It is recommended that you sign in even if you are unsure whether or not you want to address the board.

If you decide not to address the board when your name is called, say “pass” and we will move on to the next person on the list. If you give up your turn to speak, we will not return to those who decided to pass.

• You may give your allotted time to another representative. If you choose to do this, please indicate so when your name is called so that we can record the name of the person speaking.

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Submitted by frazzled on Sun, 12/02/2007 - 9:54am.

I posted this is in the comments about the poll, but I think it needs to be addressed here also.

Option A was developed after several months and thousands of man hours of consideration. According to this newspaper, Option B was developed in a single evening as what was obviously just a way to appear that the Board was being given a choice.

If the Board decides that they will not close East Fayette, then they need to go back to the drawing board to ensure that the final map is given the proper amount of thought and consideration as an important decision like this deserves. Do you want thousands of children moved based on a map that took a couple of hours to develop?

My child is being moved to one of two different schools under the proposed options. I am resigned that she is not staying at her present school. But I want to know that due diligence and care was given to deciding what makes sense for all the children of Fayette County in determining what school she goes to. Not just that the Board ran out of time and voted on Option B because it was the only convenient choice left.

Submitted by oldbeachbear on Sat, 12/01/2007 - 1:40pm.

My kid is past the elementary age so maybe my thoughts might be more logical. 1st, I would make the school board...EAT...the cost of keeping the extra school open so nothing like this happened again. I would do the redistricting using this school. If we have extra class rooms they would be used and the ration of children to teacher would drop at all the schools, or anyone that wanted to drive their kid to the new school could. Remember, it is suppose to have all the bells and whistles. But now to the problem. Why was this school built in the middle of no where, and again so close to the county line? Have'nt we learned from Sandy Creek and Whitewater we are gonna have kids come here illegaly if we build that close to the line? Then once the get in, it is hard to get them out. And let's not forget the race card. Everytime they catch one, they pull it and the schools back off. I don't believe in educating the other counties kids. I also don't believe in running from the race card. I have built the schools in the area of overcrowding as best I could. I know land is Peachtree city is either very expensive or not to be had at all. But look guys, did you all fall asleep when all those houses were being built accross from McIntosh or what? You guys have got to say no to some of this new developement, Peachtree city is up for sale.

Git Real's picture
Submitted by Git Real on Sat, 12/01/2007 - 2:02pm.

I would make the school board...EAT...the cost of keeping the extra school open so nothing like this happened again.

Those that are going to EAT the cost of keeping the extra school board are you, I and all our other friends on here. Now... If you can think of way to make the members of the School Board eat this cost... I'm all ears and a 100% behind you. Evil

Submitted by oldbeachbear on Sat, 12/01/2007 - 7:06pm.

we have to take advantage of what we have, if they screwed up, we need to use the schools, the 'savings' as they called it, wouldn't really be a savings. It is just a way for them to cover their mistake. We need to use all the schools, make the ratio less, and never ever build close to another county line. There is nothing over there, I don't understand the school in the middle of no where, unless someone's developer buddies got a deal on the land around it.

Git Real's picture
Submitted by Git Real on Sat, 12/01/2007 - 8:36pm.

BTW... great job on raising your son by yourself without the help of his deadbeat sperm donor. There are far to many of you ladies having to do that. Hang in there. For what it's worth, I vow to raise and provide for the Gitlets. After that, it's all I can hope for that Mrs. Git will still keep me. Smiling

Shoot...somebody's got to keep me off the streets. Shocked

Submitted by oldbeachbear on Sat, 12/01/2007 - 11:52pm.

You are a good guy to provide for your kids. What happens in most divorces is the children become pawns and are used for years and years to get even with each other. I wish there was some way to spare the children.

As for the school thing, you're right, we will all pay the bill, but lets take the lemmons and make lemonaide for the kids. If mine where younger, I would drive him to the new school. But, I do feel strongly that with small children, small schools work best, large ones are so imtimidating to the wee folk and this is their first separation from home. I can't change what happened to mine when little, but I don't want to see it happen to others, if there was some way I could make it easier for others children, I would. I'm not one of these, if I had to go through it, you should to. I truly feel for these kids of a divorse.

PS. If people don't want their kids displaced, they are gonna have to look very hard at who is on the school board from their area. They are also gonna have to understand, new development and displacement go hand in hand. You just can't jump up ...after... you let them build a zillion new houses closer to your school than you are and then act like Alice in Wonderland when you kid is going to a different school. In Tyrone, we know we made mistakes by trusting the wrong people, so we got rid of them. Mike Smola was one, Janet will be next...I promise, and I always keep my word.

Submitted by nosweat on Fri, 11/30/2007 - 12:06am.

WHERE IS EVERYBODY??? Parents are not the only ones affected here. If you are a homeowner in this county you must pay attention as well.

Why are taxpayers funding the construction of new schools and then subjected to the possible closing of a school that just received 1.5 million dollars in improvements? The Special School Bond Election ballot stated “addition, renovation, repair, improvement and equipping of EXISTING SCHOOL BUILDINGS and other buildings and facilities useful in connection therewith”… Closing of a school was not even a thought then and not what we voted for. How are these tax dollars being used?

Communities grow and prosper with young families, and young families look for high quality schools first and foremost. Closing a school has a financial impact today and in the future to the community and county. Also, one must ask how the redistricting will affect the communities and neighborhoods that feed these schools. What changes will there be in test scores, or demographics, or will your school change to a Title 1 School (one with increased free or discounted lunch programs)? How will the school or staff change as a result? How will the educational value of your school be perceived by prospective young families shopping for a home in your neighborhood? If you are not negatively affected this time, what happens to your neighborhood in 4 years when we do this again? Get educated on what is happening and protect your investment in Fayette County.

There are communities out there that will be negatively affected in this process more than others. Although under one plan the county will move 25% of the students, it also devastates certain schools with changing out 60% of the students. What happens to the school identity? The sense of community? One must ask if the Fayette County Tax Dollars are being used in the most cost effective way possible FOR ALL. There are communities out there that have funded the school quality we boast of, with their time, efforts, and money, and these actions will have a negative impact on their schools and in the value of their neighborhoods due to poor planning and rash decisions. Is this what we paid for? We must all do better.

Tell your spouse, tell your neighbor, tell your friends. They all have a stake in this. And whatever your opinion may be, come to the meetings, get involved, and be heard.

Remember every Fayette County taxpayer can sign this petition. Husband, wife, and adult over 18 yrs:

e-mail your Board of Ed members:

Submitted by concerned SHME ... on Tue, 11/27/2007 - 6:41pm.

Please check out this website:

Everyone in Fayette County should be concerned with this issue. It is a taxpayer issue and a property value issue, as well as a school issue. Any and all Fayette County citizens can sign this petition. Please sign, if you agree, and pass this website along to everyone this will affect.

East Fayette Elementary should not be closed or repurposed. $1,502,168 tax dollars have been spent on this school in the last 4 years for upgrades. Please let the FCBOE know that we do not want these tax dollars wasted.

Thank you!

Submitted by doug clark on Thu, 11/29/2007 - 5:02am.

Keeping this school will allow the return to plan B. Plan A has too many obvious gerrymandering inconsistencies.

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