Georgia Washington parents express concern about sale of school
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A week after getting word that the Montgomery County School Board voted to approve the sale of Georgia Washington Junior High School to the Town of Pike Road, parents of the students who currently attend the school met to voice their concerns.
Parents had the opportunity to ask their school board representative, District 5 Representative Melissa Snowden, about the status of the sale and what it would mean for their students.
The sale itself is not final. The board is in a 30-day verification period. Snowden said the board is using the time to conduct a feasibility study to see how close the other MPS middle schools are to reaching capacity so they will know how possible it is to move the students to other schools in the county. One member of the board also requested for a second vote on the issue, after saying she did not have all of the information about the sale before casting her vote in favor of it.
At the meeting on Tuesday night, parents voiced a number of concerns and frustrations about the lack of communication about the decision.
"I got an automated call last week telling me it happened," Mattie Houston said.
Houston's son is an 8th grader, so she wouldn't be impacted by a sale. However, she said she doesn't like the idea of it.
"I think this is one of the best middle schools in Montgomery County," Houston said. "They should have asked parents how they feel about it. Our kids have been coming here."
Lakeisha Connor, whose son is in 7th grade, said she is concerned about a new school causing transportation issues.
"We live five minutes from this school," Connor said. "It's very convenient. Plus, the buses are already late. If the school is 15 or 20 minutes away, they'll be even later."
Snowden said she understands the parents' concerns.
"They got very emotional," Snowden said. "I don't blame them. I'm a mom too. Nobody wants this to happen."
Snowden, who voted in favor of selling the school, said MPS is in a "crisis" and needs a better source of funding. She told parents selling Georgia Washington won't fix the problem, but it's a step forward. She said the school system is down about $8 million after losing enrollment and funding.
"This is not something we want to do," Snowden said. "It's a budget issue."
Snowden assured parents that, if the sale is made final, there will be no disruption to the current school year. She said the shift would not take place until the summer. She also told them rezoning efforts would keep them from having to worry about their kids being bussed across town.
"We don't like keeping students on the bus for long periods of time," Snowden said. "It's actually more expensive to do that."
Snowden said rezoning would be county-wide, and that everyone would make a "shift".
Many parents remained dissatisfied with Snowden's explanation. One mother asked if they could count on her to vote against the sale if the vote comes up again, and she replied "yes."
The board will meet again on Oct. 24.
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