$11M sale of Georgia Washington Middle School collapses with MPS vote

$11M sale of Georgia Washington Middle School collapses with MPS vote
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - After nearly two weeks of meetings and discussions, the Montgomery County Board of Education voted Friday against selling Georgia Washington Middle School to the Town of Pike Road.

Conversations about the sale centered on a lot of emotions from families who didn't want the school sold, but also the numbers. Some board members had been arguing that MPS could not afford not to sell the school.

The MPS board was under contract to sell the school to Pike Road for $11 million but there was a clause in that contract that allowed the board to withdraw from the agreement if they found a feasibility study conducted on the sale to be unsatisfactory.

Board members were given the results of the study Friday. It laid out where students would go if Georgia Washington were to be sold and how the sale would affect all of the middle schools in the school system.

According to the presentation, selling the school would have required a shift of enrollment for every one of the system's middle schools. It would have put MPS middle schools right over 95 percent capacity, which experts have recommended be between 85 and 90 percent.

"It can be done," the presenter said, "but it wouldn't be pretty," he went on, telling the board how there would be no room for growth, a difficulty with transit, and there would be a need for "floating" teachers.

The original Oct. 10 vote to approve the sale was 4-3. Friday's vote not to go forward with the sale was 5-2.

Despite the disappointing news, Pike Road Mayor Gordon Stone said the Pike Road School System has not given up all hope they'll be able to buy the school.

"This story is probably not over yet," Stone said. "There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle that have not been put in place yet. So we're still cautiously optimistic that when people really look at this and determine how good it is for the City of Montgomery, how good it is for the students in MPS, how good it is for the Town of Pike Road, how good it is for our students, that ultimately this deal will happen."

Still, Stones said that even if the sale doesn't go through, Pike Road officials have a plan in place that would still allow its school system to grow and expand without Georgia Washington.

Dr. Lesa Keith, the board's vice president, reminded the board that without the money from the sale, MPS is set to lay off nearly 80 employees.

"It's going to be interesting to find out who those are," Keith said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This report has been updated to clarify Friday's vote as 5-2, not 7-2.

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