Fayette BoE agrees to 2 options for closing schools
Option-cutting topped the agenda Monday night for the Fayette County Board of Education.
At Superintendent Jeff Bearden’s urging, the board without a vote agreed to cut the school closing options from five to two — Bearden’s original proposal plus one more.
The second option puts the elementary schools in Tyrone and Brooks on the chopping block.
Bearden asked that board members consider dropping all other closure options other than his original plan to close Fayette Middle School, along with Fayetteville Intermediate and Hood Avenue Primary School and have those students populate Rivers Elementary.
Bearden in his presentation added that, if not willing to drop all the other plans, the board consider reducing the number of closure options from five to two.
Though no vote was taken, the school board after a discussion did reach a consensus to have only two options. Along with Bearden’s original proposal, the second option would close Fayette Middle, consolidate Fayetteville Intermediate and Hood Avenue, leave Rivers as it is now serving some of the county special education students, close Tyrone Elementary and close Brooks Elementary.
Board member Bob Todd in advocating for the second option said Bearden’s proposal was not adequate and did not go far enough. He cited up to $20 million in cuts for next year being proposed by Bearden, adding that failing to close the appropriate number of schools next year would mean deeper cuts in personnel.
For her part, board member Terri Smith said she agreed with Bearden’s original proposal, adding that the higher cost per student in school administration, such as is the case with Brooks and Tyrone, should not be the basis for a consideration of closing schools.
Chairman Leonard Presberg said he agreed with some aspects of Todd’s position pertaining to the board’s consensus in the spring to add more options than the one proposed by Bearden. The board subsequently agreed to four options. But the recent addition of the fifth option at Todd’s request left him at a loss, Presberg said.
Presberg toward the end of the discussion referenced what he said was a belief by some in the community that the board should close all the schools that need to be closed, adding his opinion that Tyrone and Brooks should not be closed.
Though no vote was required, the consensus was reached when Presberg said he was not opposed to having the board consider Bearden’s recommendation and the option proposed by Todd. While her comments were limited, board member Marion Key appeared to agree with having the board consider both options. Board member Janet Smola was absent.
The previous five options included:
1. Bearden’s original proposal for closing Fayette Middle, Hood Avenue Primary and Fayetteville Intermediate and opening Rivers Elementary;
2. Bearden’s proposal and closing Tyrone Elementary;
3. Bearden’s proposal and closing Brooks Elementary; or
4. Bearden’s proposal and closing both Tyrone and Brooks.
5. Closing Inman and Tyrone, closing Fayette Middle, consolidating Hood Primary and Fayetteville Intermediate and leaving Rivers as it is now, with only a portion of the special education students populating the school.
With the options narrowed down to two, the redistricting committee will soon begin its work. And coming to Fayette County High School on Aug. 30 will be the first public hearing where the public is asked to offer input on the two options.