Closing Magnolia Elementary saves money, moves jobs

A special called meeting was held to discuss the repercussions if they were to close Magnolia Elementary / Sarah Bleau

After Dougherty County School System officials met with a consultant from Atlanta about schools under capacity, they say the option that kept coming up that would help manage the school system's $9.5 million budget shortfall: Close and consolidate Magnolia Elementary School.

The Dougherty County School Board held a special meeting with the public on Thursday about the possibility of closing Magnolia Elementary School - a school that documents show is more than 50 percent under capacity - and what the repercussions would be.

"We would look at closing maybe another school in the east side in maybe a year or two year's time. at this point elementary is the place we have the excess seats," says Robert Lloyd, DCSS Business and Finance Director.

He says closing the school could save $950,000. Lloyd says the plan would be to repurpose the building to house Oak Tree and Pre-K programs.

As for the teachers, Lloyd says they would follow the students, and there is the option for them to apply to other K-5 teaching positions available within the system.

"Positions are available because of the incidents that happened earlier in the year with CRCT (investigation). We have other vacancies, again, that may arise through our CRCT," says Lloyd.

Some public commentators at the meeting say the board needs to think about the students and what's going on inside the building of Magnolia Elementary. One says closing Magnolia Elementary would be a "band-aid approach" to solving the school budget deficit.

School Board Member Carol Tharin says there are other cuts in the budget they are making.

"These are tough decisions. No one wants to see their neighborhood school go away. We're not taking this lightly," she says.

What is your opinion about the possibility of closing Magnolia Elementary School? Is it necessary to help with the budget shortfall or should the school system explore other options?