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Consultants recommend closing, merging schools

Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 10:47 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 1:37 AM
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Two elementary schools could close and two middle schools could merge into nearby high schools under a reorganization plan proposed Tuesday by education consultants hired to help the district align its buildings to population shifts.

Richmond County school officials will hear public input on the plan at three town-hall style meetings in February before the Board of Education approves any final action.

Planners with Mont­gom­ery Education Consultants suggested closing Collins Elementary School; merging Murphey Middle and T.W. Josey High into a 6-12 school; consolidating National Hills and Garrett elementary schools; merging Sego Middle and Butler High into a 6-12 school; relocating Rollins Elementary into the vacant Sego building; building a new K-8 school for west Augusta to accommodate expected growth in the area; and adding a sixth-grade class to A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet School.

Benton Starks, the senior director of facilities and maintenance, regarded the consultants’ plan as a way to solve issues at overcrowded and under-used schools and to more efficiently offer academic programs to students.

“Some of these schools are too small to have separate programs in art and foreign language,” Starks said. “It’s not just about redirecting operating funds. It’s about offering more of those programs.”

Montgomery said Collins is a candidate for closure in May because this summer’s demolition of Cherry Tree Crossing housing project is expected to affect 75 percent of students. Enrollment is expected to be below 150 after the complex closes, and the school has lost 120 students since December, Montgomery said.

Wilkinson Gardens Ele­men­tary, Craig-Houghton Ele­men­tary and W.S. Hornsby K-8 would absorb those students, depending on their neighborhoods.

Officials said the Collins building would not be demolished and could be rented out for use or preserved for future revitalization of the area.

Josey High’s enrollment has steadily dropped over the last five years, leaving its building at 46 percent capacity, while enrollment at its feeder school, Murphey Middle, has fluctuated.

About $15 million was allocated from the 2012 special purpose local option sales tax to demolish the Murphey building on Milledgeville Road and build a new facility.
With demolition complete, the rightsizing plan suggests appropriating Murphey’s special purpose tax money to build a middle school wing at Josey, making the school a 6-12 model. The transition would be phased in, with rising eighth-graders moving to Josey in May and rising sixth- and seventh-graders moving in 2015.

In this model, the middle school students would take advantage of Josey’s Early College Readiness Program.

Montgomery said he expects the majority of staff to follow students to the affected schools.

A similar scenario would occur with Sego Middle students relocating to the Butler High campus on Lumpkin Road by May 2019. Butler was awarded $20 million in special purpose local option sales tax funds in 2012 for a new facility, and those funds would be used to accommodate a middle school wing in the ongoing construction.

“It gives you that comprehensive, cohesive 6-12, and it gives you some of the academic programs that allows students in the middle school years to take courses they’d not necessarily be able to take while sitting in a middle school,” Montgomery said.

Planners suggested relocating the Rollins population in 2019 to the Sego site, where there are at least 175 additional seats, opening the door for more academic programs and offerings.

With Garrett and National Hills elementary schools less than a mile apart and both under capacity, the schools would consolidate into the Garrett building, which had a $9 million makeover in 2011.
The combined enrollment would be about 500 students, and some classrooms would have to be added, but Mont­gomery said the district could save $600,000 in the first year with the consolidation.

A K-8 school was suggested for west Augusta to ac­commodate growth from new construction in the area and the influx of families expected from the incoming Army Cyber Command relocating to Fort Gordon.

“What is absolutely happening in Richmond County is an increase in the building,” Montgomery said, adding funding would come from the next round of special purpose sales tax. “In west Richmond County, there’s a number of schools over there now that are overcrowded … if the housing takes off, as it looks like it might, there could be an immediate need for a new school.”

Superintendent Frank Ro­ber­son said the suggestions are being considered by his cabinet but that community input will be a major factor before anything is finalized.
The board approved three dates in February to hold town hall meetings, where all the information will be shared and open for comment.

“We’re looking at these as possible benefits to the schools in terms of making the best use of our facilities and being able to provide the best educational programs for our children,” he said.

RIGHTSIZING SUGGESTIONS

• Close Collins Elementary

• Reconfigure T.W. Josey High into a 6-12 school to take in Murphey Middle students (Murphey would close)

• Reconfigure Butler High into a 6-12 school to absorb Sego Middle students (Close Sego)

• Relocate Rollins Elementary to the Sego building

• Consolidate National Hills and Garrett elementary schools (close National Hills)

• Build a new K-8 school for west Augusta

BE HEARD

Three community meetings will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on:

• Feb. 3 at T.W. Josey High School; 1701 15th St.

• Feb. 4 at Langford Middle School; 3019 Walton Way Extension

• Feb. 10 at Butler High School; 2011 Lumpkin Road

Comments (25) Add comment
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countyman
20236
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countyman 01/22/14 - 01:20 am
1
5
Irony!!! Southwest Augusta and not West Augusta

''A K-8 school was suggested for west Augusta to accommodate growth from new construction in the area and the influx of families expected from the incoming Army Cyber Command relocating to Fort Gordon.''

The RCBOE should hire me to become the consultant. The impressive growth in Southwest Augusta has been discussed frequently in my previous comments. I've commented numerous times about the overcrowding at Sue Reynolds and how the RCBOE should build a elementary/middle school on Gordon Hwy or Jimmie Dyess.

The Belair road, Jimmie Dyess, and Gordon Hwy(west of Jimmie Dyess) area is considered Southwest Augusta and not West Augusta. The residents actually live much closer to Glenn Hills versus the distance to Westside..

GnipGnop
12290
Points
GnipGnop 01/22/14 - 02:23 am
6
2
What moron...

thinks it's a good idea to put 6-12th graders together???? If they are consolidating 2 middle and high schools in South Augusta what does that say about the population of South Augusta???

grouse
1635
Points
grouse 01/22/14 - 08:21 am
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0
Murphey and Josey together? A
Unpublished

Murphey and Josey together? A recipe for trouble...

seenitB4
88127
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seenitB4 01/22/14 - 08:30 am
4
2
Gnip--I agree

6th graders with 12th graders ..nooooooooo

nocnoc
43432
Points
nocnoc 01/22/14 - 09:01 am
6
1
If I understand correctly

RCBOE is seeing a ARC Population shift, to other areas.

If this be the case will we be redrawing the RCBOE / Commissioner District lines for elections in the future?

BTW: why the consultants?
Did the RCBOE use them back 1960-70's or did we elect people with brains?

augustahistorybuff
49
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augustahistorybuff 01/22/14 - 09:10 am
3
3
I was just having a

I was just having a conversation with college students that live in Richmond County about the schools they came from, or as adults, have children that go to schools there, and they're not impressed!

There is nothing wrong with adding or building schools in the west Augusta, or like, area, but the urban areas of Augusta need an upgraded education system. How can one invest in the future of these kids with the broken education system that is there now?

Adding onto George P. Butler, REALLY! The school is over 60 years old. It's falling apart, an eyesore, and a band aid is not going to solve the problem. Stop dumping money into ancient infrastructure and build a NEW school.

Middle schoolers have no place, even to be near high schoolers, in urban areas. It's hard enough to catch them from grades 6-8, so that they are not influenced the wrong way.

But, once AGAIN, Richmond County FAILS it citizens! EPIC FAILURE!

Riverman1
84909
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Riverman1 01/22/14 - 09:15 am
5
1
In Most Counties

In most counties the Superintendent's office is tasked with deciding where new schools go or which ones are closed and drawing district new lines.

Riverman1
84909
Points
Riverman1 01/22/14 - 11:17 am
6
1
RCBOE Should Hire C-man...He Says

Countyman said, "The RCBOE should hire me to become the consultant."

First, you would have to take some basic education courses, starting with math and English. Secondly, you would have to immerse yourself in the history of Richmond County for a while.

seenitB4
88127
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seenitB4 01/22/14 - 09:42 am
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0
No worry

Soon the population will move toward Lincoln county & Lincolnton will be the new Martinez...

Buy now....real estate is cheaper.

Little Lamb
46397
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Little Lamb 01/22/14 - 09:54 am
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1
Queasy

I always get a bit nervous when news reporters use the "officials said" attribution to their news stories. Here is one from reporter Tracey McManus:

Officials said the Collins building would not be demolished and could be rented out for use or preserved for future revitalization of the area.

Would these unnamed “officials” be the planners from Montgomery Education Consultants? Would they be high-level administrators within the board of education bureaucracy? Would they include the Superintendent of Education himself? Would they include a majority of the trustees of the Board of Education?

Why not tell us who they are, Tracey?

Later in the same story we have Superintendent Roberson saying, “Community input will be a major factor before anything is finalized.” Does that count for anything?

Richmond County Board of Education has a miserable track record when it comes to disposal of surplus property. Take a look at the derelict building that used to house Davidson school. Copper has been stolen from the air conditioners, there are holes in the walls and the upper-level windows that have not been boarded up. It has housed vagrants. The roof leaks so badly that the floors have rotted and fallen to the base floor. It is shameful that a school system hangs on to dilapidated buildings.

The school board should set an example of proper stewardship. Hoarding unused buildings is not proper stewardship. RCBOE needs to hold a fire sale of its vacant properties post haste. The object is not to make a killing in the real estate market by hoping for some vague promise of “re-vitalization” in the by-and-by. Get rid of these buildings NOW!

soapy_725
43686
Points
soapy_725 01/22/14 - 10:01 am
1
0
George P Butler HS opened in Jan 1961. Get your facts right.
Unpublished

George P Butler HS opened in Jan 1961. Get your facts right.

soapy_725
43686
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soapy_725 01/22/14 - 10:02 am
0
0
corgimom
33161
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corgimom 01/22/14 - 10:02 am
4
1
Riverman, you de man!

Riverman, you de man!

soapy_725
43686
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soapy_725 01/22/14 - 10:03 am
0
0
Murphey is now a plowed field. "Old" Butler HS in on the ground.
Unpublished

Murphey is now a plowed field. "Old" Butler HS in on the ground.

soapy_725
43686
Points
soapy_725 01/22/14 - 10:05 am
0
0
Retrofit old school buildings for the homeless. Give to the SA.
Unpublished

Retrofit old school buildings for the homeless. Give to the SA.

soapy_725
43686
Points
soapy_725 01/22/14 - 10:06 am
0
0
Retrofit old school building for performing arts theaters.
Unpublished

Retrofit old school building for performing arts theaters.

Little Lamb
46397
Points
Little Lamb 01/22/14 - 10:07 am
2
0
Future

You can see the future in the proposals above. The idea is to create K-12 campuses. It makes sense to me. One infrastructure staff can handle kids throughout the educational process.

Parents will just have to get over their fear that seven-year-old Jenny will be badly influenced by fifteen-year-old Molly. It's society, dude. Get used to it. Set a good example, yourself.

soapy_725
43686
Points
soapy_725 01/22/14 - 10:08 am
0
0
Just think of the many great venues old schools might provide?
Unpublished

Just think of the many great venues old schools might provide?

soapy_725
43686
Points
soapy_725 01/22/14 - 10:09 am
0
0
Martha Lamar, Davidson. What a waste of resources. $$$$$
Unpublished

Martha Lamar, Davidson. What a waste of resources. $$$$$

soapy_725
43686
Points
soapy_725 01/22/14 - 10:10 am
0
0
Government does not want reduce its land acquisitions. More
Unpublished

Government does not want reduce its land acquisitions. More, more

countyman
20236
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countyman 01/22/14 - 11:05 am
1
3
Davidson = 6th-12th

The rankings of the top high schools in Georgia usually put Davidson at number one. The school continues to succeed and they offer 6th-12th grades..

The suburban versus urban setting is pretty much irrelevant. The area of South Augusta close to Butler is suburban oriented..

The growth outside of Fort Gordon is EXCITING and the new families will continue to move into the area...

Riverman1
84909
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Riverman1 01/22/14 - 11:28 am
3
0
Laney Walker Need A New School?

I figured with the hordes of people moving into Laney Walker because of the millions of county money being spent there, instead of consolidating schools, they would need a new one?

Riverman1
84909
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Riverman1 01/22/14 - 11:31 am
3
0
6-12

LL said, "Parents will just have to get over their fear that seven-year-old Jenny will be badly influenced by fifteen-year-old Molly."

In some schools 15 year old Molly would be the 7 year old's grandmother so I don't think 6-12 is a problem.

lifelongresident
1323
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lifelongresident 01/22/14 - 11:36 am
0
0
if you notice nothing is sid
Unpublished

if you notice nothing is sid about merging high schools, but they are willing to expose 6-8 girls to the animals that walk the halls in josey/laney...yeah that's real smart until one thos young girls are assualted and raped then what??? at 46% capacity and millions spent recently to upgrade and renovate that school?!? there was a payoff somewhere, the solution is to combine josey/laney into one school it is too bad that there will be one less football team but at least the school will be used more efficently and the other school be given to davidson/johnson or open another magnent school USING THE EXACT LEARNING MODEL AND STANDARDS USED AT DAVIDSON/JOHNSON this way giving more parent a chance to send their children to a good school for a quality education....

countyman
20236
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countyman 01/22/14 - 11:57 am
1
3
Hilarious!!!!

What schools in the Laney Walker district were included in the proposals?

I think somebody might want to leave the suburban cul-de-sac and venture out..

Truth Matters
6986
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Truth Matters 01/22/14 - 02:15 pm
1
0
"You can see the future in

"You can see the future in the proposals above. The idea is to create K-12 campuses. It makes sense to me. One infrastructure staff can handle kids throughout the educational process."

This thought used to scare the heck out of me but traveling the state in recent years I have seen some of these k-12 campuses. Granted the reason is different, usually because smaller counties had less resources and this helped with buses, but the concept seems to work okay. Glascock Mounty comes to mind. Washington County (Sandersville) houses the elementary and middle schools under one roof but on different wings.

As parents we never liked the separate middle school concept and found Walker a great option until our kid was ready for high school and a little more freedom.

I just hate to see schools abandoned that were just renovated a few years ago.

Truth Matters
6986
Points
Truth Matters 01/22/14 - 02:18 pm
0
1
Drat that auto correct

Drat that auto correct again!!
Glascock Mounty should read "County."

Little Lamb
46397
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Little Lamb 01/22/14 - 02:37 pm
1
0
Football

You know, Josey has had a pitiful football team for several years now. The proposal to merge Murphy Middle and Josey High could be a shot in the arm for the football team. Let's say you've got some fifth and sixth graders who are good prospects for a football team. You could just "red-shirt" them by holding them back in the eighth grade until you get them to their maximum potential for the football team, then make them eligible. They might be 19-year-old freshmen, but, heck, who cares?

Riverman1
84909
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Riverman1 01/22/14 - 02:52 pm
1
0
LL, they have JV football

LL, they have JV football programs for grades 6-8.

Little Lamb
46397
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Little Lamb 01/22/14 - 03:20 pm
1
0
JV

Yeah, I know, but what I was envisioning was if you had a good prospect in Middle School you could let him play JV but then make him repeat 8th grade if he's promising as high school varsity player, but not quite ready. Then when he's repeating the 8th grade, he could get practice time in with the varsity guys, but doesn't lose a season of eligibility because he's technically not in high school yet. Only when he's ready for prime time would you pass him on to 9th grade, where he would become a star. You could have a whole high school team of 19 to 25 year olds who could really make a name for the Josey team.

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