Parents, students fight to keep Albany High School open

It was a packed house on Tuesday night for the first of two public hearings about the possible closing of Albany High School./ Jazmyne Hankerson

It was a packed house on Tuesday night for the first of two public hearings about the possible closing of Albany High School.

Supporters spoke out in defense of this school with such long-standing history and they're hoping this makes a difference.

“It’s a home because like everybody says we’re a family here,” said sophomore Justin Clements. “That’s why I’m fighting for it now because I’ll do whatever I’ve got to do to keep the school open.”

The proposed recommendation to the school board would include Albany High School shutting down plus a new direct feeder system between the system’s elementary, middle and high schools.

System leaders say the direct feeder system would help with continuity and a continued culture as students come up through the system.

Incoming Superintendent Kenneth Dyer presented information at the hearing showing serious drops in county population and student attendance since 2004 which he said are big factors that went into this proposal.

“I was raised here in [Albany] and anybody that goes to any of the four high school here is very devoted to the schools,” said Tamara Davis who is the parent of a student. “It’s very emotional when you talk about closing a school. I have a 10th grader who has two more years to attend this school and so she would have to assimilate herself into another school and start all over almost as if she were a freshman. It’s going to be difficult.”

AHS is about 200 students shy of the threshold to get full state funding and leaders say enrollment system-wide is only expected to keep going down.

“Divide the population up evenly. I would like to see some more information brought forth about that…about dividing the population of all the fours school equally,” said Davis.

“Phase it out so that it’s not so impactful, it’s not quite so rushed and it gives the students as well as the parents an opportunity to make adjustments,” said Tangela Clements who is a parent of an Albany High School sophomore.

The board hasn’t made a final decision yet or even decided when this proposal would be effective.

Clements said she feels their voices didn’t fall on deaf ears and is hoping this will make a difference in the end.

“I do really feel like they heard what we said and they will be willing to give us a feasible response,” said Clements.

If the proposal were to go through, the school would be re-purposed for things such as serving as a hosting site for large events, administrative uses and a museum would be made in memory of the school.

There was a note taker at the hearing on behalf of the school board to write down all of the questions that were asked.

Those answers are expected to be posted on the school system's website within a week.

The next and last public hearing on this issue will be on May 23 at noon at the Government Center.

The full presentation for the recommended realignment can be found here.

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