DCSS consider closing elementary schools

Map show breakdown of how schools could be reapportioned. / Map by Kimley-Horn and Associates

The Dougherty County School Board opened the Monday meeting giving honor to students who've achieved the highest honors for the school system.

Elisia Walters from Southside Middle School won the 1st place and grand prize for the Darton College Regional Science Fair.

"It was my first time in the science fair, so it felt really good to win first place in my first time," says Elisia Walters, Southside Middle School Student.

After the honors ceremony, the school board brought in an analyst from the Kimley-Horn and Associates firm in Atlanta to go over possible ways to save revenue for the school system.

The school board requested the analysis in order to look at whether there is too much capacity in the system and if there is a way to reduce that capacity in order to gain financial savings.

"We have available seats at all levels across the system, mostly at the elementary and middle schools and less-so at the high school level. What we found tonight is there are a little over 1,000 empty seats at the elementary school level and that does present and opportunity for the board to look at reducing the number of elementary school facilities," says Eric Bosman with the Kimley-Horn and Associates.

Some of the school considered for closure include Alice Coachman, Magnolia, and Martin Luther King Elementary schools.

In the beginning of March the board requested that the Dougherty County School System's finance director come up with the amount of savings the school system would profit if they closed an elementary or middle school.

Robert Lloyd, the school board's finance director, says closing an elementary school would save the school system about $900,000 and closing a middle school would save about $1.5 million.

They board also asked him about outsourcing.

"Outsourcing is getting a third party to do some of the services currently done in house such as custodial services, school meals, facilities maintenances and or bus drivers," says Robert Lloyd, Finance Director for the Dougherty County School System.

Lloyd adds that there could be some possible dangers from outsourcing because of labor laws.

If an elementary school is closed it will be repurposed and used for another purpose within the system says Eric Bosman.

Students could be moved from one school to another to free up space.

"I think the opportunity by the board is to reduce the number of elementary schools by one and to possibly move students from one school to another in order to free up the facility and reduce the overall number," says Bosman.

Also in Monday night's meeting, the board approved a waiver to have the flexibility to add five students to a classroom.

They say this may not happen but, if they have to increase class size, the option would be available.

The school board will decide at a later date what they will do to save money.

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