Finances and quality education are the main reasons behind the proposal to repurpose two schools in Richmond County, say school officials.
Superintendent Angela Pringle met with parents at Jenkins-White Elementary on Tuesday evening to discuss the proposed changes.
If the proposal is adopted, changes would take place in the 2018-19 school year with Jenkins-White Elementary repurposed as an Intermediate Literacy and Math Center. The center would give the district the opportunity to get third- through fifth-grade students reading at their age-appropriate level on time and prevent education issues for students after they enter middle school and high school.
Third- through fifth-grade students zoned for Jenkins-White would have priority enrollment at the new center. Others would be rezoned to Wilkinson Gardens Elementary, a mile from Jenkins-White.
The small gathering of parents who attended Tuesday’s session appeared open to the changes, but some still had questions and concerns after the 20-minute meeting.
“I would like to stay here. I really like Jenkins-White. This is just new to everybody here,” parent Starless Maloyd said. She said she hopes her daughter will be able to attend the literacy center.
Pringle cited the disappearance of Hyde Park and the decline in population at River Glen apartments for the decline in Jenkins-White’s enrollment.
“When you look at the population here at Jenkins-White, we know that the capacity is 525. Right now we are at 313 taking the literacy center students out. So we have just over half the amount of students we need for the school to be really viable,” she said. “It’s no longer really affordable and it doesn’t allow us to do the things we need to do to help kids.”
The proposal would also repurpose Craig-Houghton Elementary as a Cyber and Technology Training Center for students and teachers. The building has a capacity of 650 students, but enrollment for this year is 409 and it has decreased over the past few years, according to the school system.
Craig-Houghton students would be reassigned to W.S. Hornsby Elementary, which is 2.5 miles away, or Lamar-Milledge Elementary, which is 3.3 miles away. Pringle will meet with parents at Craig-Houghton on Thursday at 6 p.m.
The school system will hold two additional meetings at the district office March 6 and 8 at 6 p.m. to discuss the realignment of school attendance lines for students at Lamar-Milledge Elementary, Sue Reynolds Elementary, Hains Elementary, Southside Elementary, Murphey Middle, Diamond Lakes Elementary, Langford Middle, Willis Foreman Elementary, Deer Chase Elementary, Academy of Richmond County, Westside High, Lake Forest Hills Elementary and Monte Sano Elementary. Students affected by those changes will be notified by their school.
During the meetings, school board members and staff are taking feedback from the community. A vote will not be made on the proposal until March 23 at the regularly scheduled board meeting.