F’ville Council delays schools resolution

It was a resolution supporting the idea of finding uses for as many as three schools in Fayetteville that are slated for possible closure next year. But the Fayetteville City Council on Sept. 20 pulled the resolution from the agenda, citing confusion that stemmed from the “mutual termination agreement” approved a day earlier between the Fayette County Board of Education and Superintendent Jeff Bearden. The resolution will be brought up at a later date.

The resolution cited the school system’s need to get a handle on shrinking revenues, part of which involves one option that would close Fayette Middle School, Fayetteville Intermediate School and Hood Avenue Primary. Though not mentioned, there is a second option that would close Fayette Middle, Brooks Elementary and Tyrone Elementary.

Though referencing only the option proposed by Bearden that would close only Fayetteville schools, the resolution noted the current exploration centered on repurposing the three Fayetteville schools for uses such as a college and career academy.

Noted in the resolution was the council’s concern that any closed school facilities not be left permanently vacant.

Conducting the meeting in Mayor Greg Clifton’s absence, Councilman Paul Oddo suggested the resolution be pulled in light of the changes in the school system. The council vote was unanimous, with City Manager Joe Morton saying the resolution could be brought back at a later date.

Oddo’s reference was to the called meeting of the Fayette County Board of Education held a day earlier, where the board voted 4-1 to enter into a “mutual termination agreement” with Bearden effective Jan. 1.

Asked later what prompted pulling the resolution, Oddo said the council felt there was a little confusion with the situation with the superintendent. Oddo said the council could wait a couple of weeks and bring it back up for discussion.

“I think we agree that if schools in Fayetteville close we should put them to good use,” Oddo said.

The proposed resolution came after a meeting between Bearden, Clifton, Morton, Councilman Larry Dell, Fayette County Board of Education Chairman Leonard Presberg and Fayetteville Community Development Director Brian Wismer.

Dell, Morton and Wismer are currently serving on the school system’s repurposing committee that also includes Peachtree City Councilwoman Kim Learnard, a parent representative from Fayetteville, Brooks and Tyrone and several school system employees. The committee is looking at repurposing options for all the schools listed in the two closure options.

In terms of repurposing, committee chair Chris Horton recently told the school board that Lafayette Education Center could best be utilized as the site of the proposed college and career academy.

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