Possible school closing prompts residents to speak their mind

Hundreds gathered at the Tallapoosa County Courthouse to share their ideas for keeping Edward Bell School open.
Hundreds gathered at the Tallapoosa County Courthouse to share their ideas for keeping Edward Bell School open.

Posted by: Melissa McKinney - bio | email

DADEVILLE, AL (WSFA) - "We simply want our children to receive a quality education at Edward Bell School," says one Camp Hill resident from behind the podium.

One look at the crowd in the Tallapoosa County Courthouse and it's easy to see, Edward Bell School is treasured in Camp Hill.

"We just really take that school to be our joy.  It's like home.  If that school leaves, a part of us leaves," says Camp Hill resident, Carolyn Evans.

With five minutes at the microphone, folks pleaded their case to the Tallapoosa County Board of Education to keep Edward Bell School open.

"If you close our school down, our children will be left behind," said another resident.

Tallapoosa schools' Superintendent, Philip Baker, doesn't want to shut the doors to Edward Bell, and he reassured residents a decision hasn't been made yet.

But with a $3 million dollar shortfall and 11% proration staring him in the face, he's desperate for ideas.

"We're looking at every avenue we possibly can."

Folks suggested ideas to help keep the school open--for kids like Kendavious Golatte.

"It means a lot, because I'm not the only one that really wants Edward Bell to stay open," he says.

Kendavious is a 5th grader there.  He was shocked to hear his school could close next year.

"I was just crying.  And I don't want them to close it down because I've been there since Kindergarten," he says.

If the school closes, Baker says the 180 students at Edward Bell will go to Dadeville and Reeltown--saving the system half a million dollars per year.

Some teachers would be relocated, while others would lose their jobs.

Kendavious hopes the meeting helps make one thing clear.

"Maybe they'll see that everyone cares about them not shutting down our school."

Baker says the school's been losing students over the past few years and that means less money from the state department.

Residents suggested rezoning the county to bring more kids to the school.

Baker says him and the board will review all the suggestions from the meeting and should have a decision on whether to close the school by April 1st.

He says the school system had $4 million dollars in reserve funds, but that money will be gone by the end of this school year.

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