The Richmond County Board of Education will hear public input on proposed “rightsizing” scenarios at four town hall meetings starting Monday before voting on whether to merge, consolidate and close several schools.
Philadelphia-based education consultant Bill Montgomery began collecting school enrollment and county population data late last year. In January, he proposed the following scenarios to accommodate population shifts and solve
overcrowding and under-usage issues:
• Reconfigure T.W. Josey High into grades 6-12 to absorb and close Murphey Middle
• Reconfigure Butler High into a 6-12 school to absorb and close Sego Middle
• Close Collins Elementary
• Relocate Rollins Elementary to the Sego building
• Consolidate National Hills and Garrett elementary schools by closing National Hills
• Build a new K-8 school for the growth in west Augusta
• Add a sixth grade to A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet School
The planners suggested closing Collins because this summer’s demolition of the Cherry Tree Crossing housing complex will leave the school almost devoid of students. Montgomery said the Sego building is a better fit for the Rollins school to accommodate future growth.
The 6-12 schools were pitched to solve enrollment issues at the high schools, which are under capacity, and to expose younger students to more academic opportunities earlier on, Superintendent Frank Roberson said.
The 6-12 concept is a relatively rare model nationwide, with 3,106 public schools using it compared with 15,442 with the traditional 9-12 grades, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Educators have debated the 6-8 middle school model that became popular in the 1970s and are investing more in K-8 schools. Some large districts that built 6-12 schools did so to boost student achievement and solve facilities issues.
Roberson said moving middle school students into a high school setting will give them access to more academic and college-preparation programs.