School officials set to vote on school closures

Dougherty County Board of Education meeting. / Jessica Fairley

Dougherty County School System officials are ready to vote on a proposal to possibly close three schools.

In Monday night's meeting, a consultant hired by the school system brought back an altered proposal drawn up from the comments and concerns of county residents.

In the initial proposal all Dougherty Middle School students were moved to Radium Springs Middle School.

"The current proposal based on feedback splits Dougherty Middle School and sends some to Albany Middle School and sends some to Radium Springs Middle School," said Eric Bosman, Kimberly-Horn and Associates Consultant.

Even with the changes, some community and board members are still fighting to keep schools open.

School board member Darrel Ealum stood his ground to keep Sylvester Road Elementary open, but still a motion was made to vote on the proposal.

"I know that some parents aren't going to be happy and I apologize for that but I also know that this board has got to react to the budget crisis and understaffed schools," said David Mosely, DCSS Interim Superintendent.

As the school board is facing the dilemma of where students will go if schools do close, they're also concerned about Albany Early College students' placement on Albany State's campus.

In light of a growth in student population and tight housing and classroom space, ASU officials want to utilize the facility that Dougherty County school students use to take college courses while they're still in high school.

"We're beginning an exploration with the Dougherty County schools of possibly repatriating a building that has been used by the Albany Early College," said Dr. Everette Freeman, Albany State University President.

Now that Albany State needs the space that Dougherty County School System students use, officials are trying to work out an agreement to either keep them on the campus or possibly use one of the schools that may close.

School officials are expected to vote March 27th on whether or not they will close Sylvester Road Elementary School, Dougherty Middle School and Magnolia Elementary School.