Pike County columnist: ‘Save Brooks Elementary School’

[Editor’s note: The following first appeared as an opinion column in the Pike County (Ga.) Journal Reporter. The paper is the legal organ for Pike County.]

Just north of Pike County is a place I cherish. It is the small town of Brooks. I grew up there, stumped my toes there and went to school there. It is a community in south Fayette County that is a piece of my heart.

Last week I attended the Fayette County Board of Education meeting to plead for them to keep the Brooks Elementary school doors open.

The Fayette County School System is currently $15 million in the red. They now want to close Brooks, Tyrone, Fayette Middle and Fayette Intermediate School.

The school system has over-built and now has over 300 empty classrooms. Fayette County has been decreasing in student population now for several years. Next year they are projected to decrease by 500 more students.

The Fayette School System has always been the jewel of the Southside when it came to education within the schools. The best of educators, administrators and curriculum has been embedded here for the last 50 years. Could this be the beginning of the end for Fayette County?

Over 500 people attended Sam’s Auditorium to voice their opinion about the closing of the schools. I was the first to speak to the BOE on the closing of Brooks Elementary. I had three minutes at the microphone and I let it rip from deep within my soul of how I felt about my old alma mater.

Four teachers taught eight grades. Two lunchroom ladies, one librarian and one custodian made the eight that run the well-oiled machine of education.

I told the BOE that people move their families to Brooks for two reasons: the quality of life and Brooks Elementary.

For over 100 years, Brooks has had a school. I can’t imagine the BOE closing the doors of one of the most celebrated schools of excellence in Fayette County.

Should the doors close on Brooks Elementary it will change the landscape and quality of life more than the BOE will ever know. It will even affect our school system right here in Pike County.

Families will move their households to the south and not to the north. Pike is only eight miles to the Fayette County line. We will see an influx of students in the lower grades coming from Fayette County just as Henry and Fayette County saw an influx in student transfers when Clayton County lost their accreditation status.

The spill-over could take effect within the 2013-2014 school calendar. The final fate of these schools will be determined sometime in March.

I hope the BOE listened as 40 people spoke emotionally about the little school that could. That little school made me the person that I am today. It gave me the foundation to succeed in whatever I chose to do in life.

Closing the doors is not the solution. The solution is to keep small-town America alive and well in Brooks, Ga.

If you are fortunate enough to have your mother alive, call her and tell her you love her. I got to go for now; I’m going to Barnesville to see my mother.

Greg Parrott

Pike County Journal Reporter

Meansville, Ga.