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Parents, student make case for keeping Collins K-8 School

Students would split between 3 schools

Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014 11:16 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 1:38 AM
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One after the other, they called the idea an absolute injustice and a threat to a historic school’s rich legacy.

To close Collins K-8 School would be to destroy the heart of the community, they said. As articulated by an eighth-grader, educators at Collins have taught generations of families, so why stop now?
“You say you’re all about education, but you’re closing a school that’s been around many, many years,” said eighth-grader Satoya Mickens. “Why our school? Why not any other school? Make them come to us. Don’t make us go to them.”

The second public hearing on various rightsizing proposals Tuesday focused on a plan to close Collins K-8 School because of dwindling enrollment partially the result of the closure of the Cherry Tree Crossing housing complex.
About 150 staff, alumni and parents attended the meeting at Craig-Houghton Elementary School, and several dozen who walked up to a microphone begged district officials to reconsider.

Education consultants hired by the district proposed six closures, mergers or consolidations after analyzing 10-year school enrollment and county population shifts. The Collins closure was suggested because enrollment has dropped since residents have begun mov­ing out of Cherry Tree, which is slated to close this summer and will affect 75 percent of students, consultant Bill Montgomery said.

Depending on their neighborhoods, the Collins students would be rezoned for Hornsby K-8, Craig-Houghton and Wilkinson Gardens elementary schools. Parents were also concerned about the possibility of the Collins 6-8 students being rezoned for a proposed 6-12 school formed by merging Murphey Middle and T.W. Josey High schools.

“I don’t understand why do we have to take away this school,” said parent Ru­dolph Brown, who said he could have moved anywhere after serving in the military but chose to live in the Collins neighborhood. “The way y’all are talking now, Collins is already closed. … The school has good educators and a good staff and it’s a community school.”

The board of education will hold two more community meetings before voting on the suggestions March 11.

Principal Thomas Norris said even after losing about 150 students since August, the school still serves an important role in the neighborhood. He said even though families have moved out of Cherry Tree, many still remain in the inner city and he doubted his enrollment would drop below the current 346.
“Collins was not built up on (Cherry Tree) and it should not be tore down because of (Cherry Tree),” parent Kim­berly Jackson said. “I don’t understand how the board puts a price on our kids.”

The district could save about $600,000 in utilities and maintenance costs by closing Collins but less on salaries because faculty and staff would follow students to the receiving schools, consultant Thery McKinzie said.

Benton Starks, the senior director of maintenance and facilities, stressed that if the plan is approved, the school would not be demolished but maintained in the event it is needed in the future.

Alysha Griffin, an instructor of African-American history at Paine College, said closing Collins would be a threat to preserving the history of black leaders in Augusta.
The initial Steed Street School was formed in the early 1900s by a partnership of churches to educate black children and modeled after the Hains Normal and Industrial Institute founded by Lucy Craft Laney. It was absorbed by the Board of Edu­cation in the 1940s and renamed after its longtime Principal Ursula Collins, in 1951, Griffin said.

“For what may be a century or more, Collins has been on those grounds serving that community,” she said. “In so many ways, the neighborhoods and the communities that have been long established here in Augusta serve as a textbook for teaching and raising our young. The closing of Collins and the general neglect of our local landscape denies our children access to their history and their culture.”

RIGHTSIZING SUGGESTIONS

• Close Collins Elementary School

• 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

Two more public meetings will be held for parents to voice concerns:

• Feb. 10, 6 p.m.: Butler High School, 2011 Lumpkin Road

• Feb. 11, 6:30 p.m.: Garrett Elementary School, 1100 Eisenhower Drive

Comments (9) Add comment
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avidreader
3235
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avidreader 02/05/14 - 06:40 am
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Tough Times!

Many times we forget that education is also a business. Responsible leaders are the caretakers of our tax dollars, and these dollars must be spent wisely. Collins will not build its enrollment numbers in the near future, so our leaders consider its abandonment will save the taxpayers 600K per year. This is a lot of cash.

“'You say you’re all about education, but you’re closing a school that’s been around many, many years,' said eighth-grader Satoya Mickens."

It's nice to know that so many people are encouraged by the quality of the Collins' school; however, responsible administrators are "all about education", and Collins must be closed. National Hills too! It's likely that many of the Collins' supporters think that money is no issue when it comes to governmental spending. But money is a huge issue with me and many of my fellow educators. We eventually want our furlough days back. Five years of pay cuts is enough. The teachers and students from Collins will continue to fare well in our system. Brick and mortar do not constitute a poor budgetary decision.

Amen!

Pops
8591
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Pops 02/05/14 - 08:55 am
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3
I don't believe this

"Alysha Griffin, an instructor of African-American history at Paine College, said closing Collins would be a threat to preserving the history of black leaders in Augusta."

How is closing a school a "threat"? I knew that when the consulting group recommended closing any historically black schools the race angle would be brought up.

soapy_725
43678
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soapy_725 02/05/14 - 10:20 am
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History, 1970 repeated. Leave my neighborhood school alone.
Unpublished

History, 1970 repeated. Leave my neighborhood school alone.

soapy_725
43678
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soapy_725 02/05/14 - 10:21 am
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The NEW quality education guvmit promised did not happen.
Unpublished

Who knew it would come full circle.

soapy_725
43678
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soapy_725 02/05/14 - 10:22 am
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Federal Education was never about kids or quality. It was power.
Unpublished

Federal Education was never about kids or quality. It was power.

soapy_725
43678
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soapy_725 02/05/14 - 10:22 am
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Federal Education was never about kids or quality. Brainwashing.
Unpublished

Federal Education was never about kids or quality. Brainwashing.

soapy_725
43678
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soapy_725 02/05/14 - 10:23 am
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Federal Education was never about kids or quality. Racial divide
Unpublished

Federal Education was never about kids or quality. Racial divide

soapy_725
43678
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soapy_725 02/05/14 - 10:24 am
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The republic saved by Lincoln has made slaves of us all. Amen
Unpublished

The republic saved by Lincoln has made slaves of us all. Amen

Sweet son
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Sweet son 02/05/14 - 01:52 pm
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1
What a statement!

"I don’t understand why do we have to take away this school,” said parent Ru­dolph Brown" Rudolph it is simply dollars and cents!

Somebody else said that the educational process was like a business. So in business if you have a facility that is under performing, and I don't mean academics, then what do you do? You close it to cut loses.

The RCBOE is a overloaded with "Special" teachers, principals, coaches etc. So if you want to keep all of these unnecessary people you have to cut somewhere.

Also, I am sentimental about the closing of Rollins because that's where I went and that is where my daughter also went. But you can't let emotions cloud judgement.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 02/05/14 - 02:36 pm
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2
Choice

The board of trustees have a choice. They can create a school system built on busing or one build on neighborhood schools. Since the neighborhood around Collins is largely senior citizens, there are few children to populate the school. If the board of trustees want to keep it open, they will need to close another elementary school far away and bus those students to Collins. How many parents want that?

Dixieman
15073
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Dixieman 02/05/14 - 04:05 pm
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Do I have to repost...

...my earlier advance transcripts for these meetings? The comments are as boring as they are predicable as they are uninformed as they are parochial as they are ignorant as they are narrow-minded. Sheeeesh.

(If you missed my earlier posting on this issue, it is reproduced below)
-------------------------------
Transcript (in advance) of school closing meetings:

"Don't close my kid's school!"
"Don't close MY kid's school!"
"You want to close MY kid's school? Never!"
"Close that other school over there!"
"You don't agree with me? Racist!!"

(Now you know what will be said, you can skip the meetings.)

corgimom
32631
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corgimom 02/05/14 - 08:01 pm
1
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Why would parents want their

Why would parents want their children going to an out-of-date, dilapidated school?

There are people in this world that just aren't happy unless they are complaining about something.

dichotomy
33138
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dichotomy 02/05/14 - 08:28 pm
2
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"“I don’t understand how the

"“I don’t understand how the board puts a price on our kids.”

It's about time the board puts a price on SOMETHING. The taxpayers are not obligated to keep a half empty school open because of community emotions. Black neighborhood, white neighborhood....if you have half empty schools it's time to combine schools and shut some down.

If the school board leaves half empty schools open because of claims of racial "historical" reasons then every taxpayer in the county should pile into every board meeting and disrupt them from now on. EVERY school has educated SOMEBODY who has done SOMETHING. You cannot keep them all open forever...especially when they are half empty and going to get emptier. Can this school board for ONCE do something smart without letting the word black prevent them from doing so. It always seems to be the predominate reason for everything they do and we have one of the worst school systems in the country for the amount of money we spend per student.

Bizkit
31656
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Bizkit 02/06/14 - 12:10 am
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Gosh all the schools I

Gosh all the schools I attended were dilapidated buildings. I bet most were built in the early 1900's. No air (we opened the windows and hoped for a breeze) and just radiator heaters for winter. In high school we could throw our cigarette butts into all the holes in the walls of the bathrooms. But I have fond memories of those old schools. What does that have to do with an education? Whether UGA, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, West Georgia or Valdosta most of the schools had old buildings for educational purposes-least they did during the 60-80s-now most are modernized. Some of the best labs I've worked in were in old dilapidated buildings.

raul
4899
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raul 02/06/14 - 09:40 am
0
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and the ones who gripe the

and the ones who gripe the loudest about closing "my child's school" pay the least in taxes to support them.

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