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      Community turns out for second meeting on school closures

      The Dougherty County School Board held the second and final public hearing regarding the possible closure of three county schools on Thursday afternoon.Kimberly-Horn and Associates Consultant Eric Bosman addressed the crowd by presenting the same information given on Monday, but also gave a small presentation on the other options the board was given after many parents questioned if the board looked at other ways to combat problems within the district.Dougherty County School System Finance Director Kenneth Dyer says the on December 7th, the board sat through a long presentation detailing other options which included closing different schools, but other options would split every middle school up into different high schools.Bosman adds that socialization is important part in a child's education so the board didn't want to split the kids up.The option currently being looked at would close Magnolia Elementary, Sylvester Road Elementary and Dougherty Middle School, two of which are on the east side of town.Plenty of East Albany residents stepped forward with their concerns saying they're afraid vagrants will occupy the empty schools and will cause more problems overall.If the three schools are closed, Dougherty County School System Finance Director Kenneth Dyer says the system will save $1.9 million annually as well as an initial $11 million saved on SPLOST funds while cutting no jobs since those at the closed schools will be repositioned.Those who spoke out, like Shirley Jordan says her grandson who is a student at Sylvester Road would be moved and the board is only looking at money saved not the money spent on the kids.School Board Chair Carol Tharin says the money saved by closing the schools would free up funds to spend on other areas beneficial to the children.Board members say this is a tough decision because no matter what option they take, there are going to be difficulties and cons but they have to do something to combat the decreasing enrollment rate and loss of funding.The board will take both comments from Monday and Thursday's hearings and consider what was brought up before addressing the public again at an informational session.The session will be held on February 21st at 6:30 p.m. in the Government Building on Pine Avenue.

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