MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Montgomery County Public School Board has voted to approve the sale of Georgia Washington Middle School to the town of Pike Road for use by the Pike Road School System.
The board went into executive session Tuesday afternoon to hear the details of the proposed contract. Members returned and voted 4-3 to go forward with the sale.
Board members Eleanor Lewis Dawkins, Arica Watkins-Smith, and Robert Porterfield each voted against the plan.
Watkins-Smith voiced concerns before the executive session that the board wasn't able to know details or vote about the contract. An attorney explained that her premise was incorrect and there is no binding agreement but that the details would be provided in the executive sessions and then publicly after.
Pike Road Mayor Gordon Stone said there had been ongoing conversations with MPS and the Alabama State Department of Education on the best way to serve students in the area. The town will pay approximately $11.25 million for the school and 23 acres.
Stone said the plan is to make the school available to high school students "in the very near future" though he wouldn't elaborate on a date.
In a message he shared with Pike Road citizens, the mayor said the purchase was a "win-win" for both the Montgomery and Pike Road communities.
"By working together, we can improve bottom-line benefits for all citizens," Stone said. "Along with creating opportunities for PRS students, the agreement also ensures that the dedicated employees serving at Georgia Washington and the Montgomery Public Schools students currently attending classes at the campus will have their needs met without interruption, seamlessly transitioning to other facilities within MPS."
For Pike Road school system, the mayor added, it "is a significant step forward in our commitment to provide quality educational opportunities to all our students, without the need to ask citizens to approve additional revenue measures."
The sale also comes with contingencies. There is a 30-day verification window on the sale so MPS can be assured their plans to serve students are valid. There's also the school's namesake, Georgia Washington. The buyer cannot change the school's name and must continue to "honor, observe and maintain the burial plot of Ms. Georgia Washington" which is located on the property.
Georgia Washington, an African-American woman, started her school with four small boys in Mt. Meigs back in 1893, according to historical information on MPS's website. Some 43 years later in 1936, Washington retired.
After her death in 1952, the school's name - at that time Peoples Village School - was renamed in her honor.
The current building on the property was built in 1950 and a new wing was added in 2004. From four small boys to the present, GW's enrollment currently stands at more than 600.