Sup’t. Bearden to conduct public hearing Thursday night on school cuts

If you want to have your say on which Fayette County schools should be closed to cut costs — and which should remain open — here’s your chance.

The first of two public hearings for parents and the community to provide input on the potential closure of several Fayette County schools will be conducted Thursday night at Fayette County High School.

School system spokesperson Melinda Berry-Dreisbach said the first public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. in the Fayette County High School cafeteria on Aug. 30.

She said all parents and concerned citizens are encouraged to attend to give their input. The hearing will be conducted in small groups so that all participants will have an opportunity to make comments and suggestions, Berry-Dreisbach said.

Berry-Dreisbach said the meeting will begin with Superintendent Jeff Bearden providing on overview of the purpose of the school closures and redistricting process. Bearden will also give a report on school system finances and the school system’s enrollment history.

The original school closure proposal would close Fayette Middle School, Hood Avenue Primary and Fayetteville Intermediate and open Rivers Elementary to accommodate most of the children from the two elementary schools on Hood Avenue. That’s the option favored by Bearden.

A second option would close Fayette Middle, consolidate Fayetteville Intermediate and Hood Avenue administratively at the existing campus, leave Rivers as it is now serving some of the county special education students, close Tyrone Elementary and close Brooks Elementary.

Berry-Dreisbach said information gathered from the hearing will be shared with members of the Fayette County Board of Education and the recently appointed redistricting committee. The information will also be posted to the Fayette County Board of Education website in an effort to keep the public informed as the process moves forward.

As for the overall school redistricting process, it is currently expected to include a total of four public hearings. The subsequent input gathered will be posted on the school system’s website and will be provided at the second public hearing.

Further into the school redistricting process and once the maps are finalized, two additional public hearings will be conducted prior to the vote by the school board, expected to occur in December.

Potential school closures were one of more than a dozen cost-saving items listed by Bearden at the Aug. 20 school board meeting.

According to Bearden, the school system must cut up to $20 million in expenses for the 2013-2014 school year that begins July 1.

Aside from the money saved from school closures, the overwhelming amount of expenses to be cut, according to Bearden, will have to come from personnel dollars.

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