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Stage set for school closure public hearings

The Fayette County School System is preparing for two public hearings to be held Feb. 14 and 25 on recommendations to close up to four of the county’s public schools. The public hearings will be held at Sams Auditorium located at 205 LaFayette Avenue in Fayetteville. School system spokesperson Melinda Berry-Dreisbach said doors to the auditorium will open at 6 p.m.

The purpose of the hearings will be to allow a full discussion of the superintendent’s recommendation to close some or all of the following schools: Tyrone Elementary School, Brooks Elementary School, Fayette Middle School and Fayetteville Intermediate School.

And though the agenda has not been set, the school board’s regular meeting on Feb. 11 will also be held at Sams Auditorium.

The January meeting held at that location saw approximately 900 people attending, with most of those present to hear more about the school closures and other cost-cutting measures that will lead to approximately $15 million in cuts from the 2013-2014 budget. Of that amount, more than $11 million deals with the elimination of up to 250 jobs.

Berry-Dreisbach said that if the school closure recommendation is approved, the students currently attending Tyrone Elementary would attend either Crabapple Lane Elementary School or Robert J. Burch Elementary School; those attending Brooks Elementary would attend either Peeples Elementary School or Inman Elementary School; those attending Fayetteville Intermediate School would attend either North Fayette Elementary School, Hood Avenue Primary School, or Spring Hill Elementary School; and those attending Fayette Middle School would attend Bennett’s Mill Middle School.

The new but under-utilized River’s Elementary School is out of the picture since it may become a college campus (See nearby story).

A recommended map of the new attendance zones, which would be presented to the school board for approval if the recommendation is adopted, can be reviewed at all Fayette County public schools, at the LaFayette Education Center, Bldg. D, located at 205 LaFayette Ave., Fayetteville; and at the county office located 210 Stonewall Avenue in Fayetteville. Maps can also be viewed on the school system website at www.fcboe.org.

In each case elementary schools will be composed of grades K-5 and maintained at a size not to exceed 800 students and middle schools will be composed of grades 6-8 and maintained at a size not to exceed 1,400 students. There are no construction projects contemplated in order to complete these moves, Berry-Dreisbach said.

The school board has not yet determined the future use or disposal of the property on which these schools are located if the facilities are no longer needed for their present purpose, said Berry-Dreisbach. Possible plans would include use by the school system for other instructional or administrative purposes, lease or conveyance to governmental entities for other community purposes or lease or sale to private entities or individuals, she said.

All speakers at the public hearings will be asked to sign in between 6-7 p.m. and only those who have signed in prior to the meeting will be allowed to speak. Guidelines for speakers will be posted on www.fcboe.org and available at the hearings. The school board also requests written comments or suggestions regarding these plans. Such written comments can be sent to Melinda Berry-Dreisbach, Public Information Specialist, 210 Stonewall Ave., Fayetteville, GA 30214 or emailed to berrydreisbach.melinda@mail.fcboe.org.

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