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Schools' future uncertain

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January 13, 2006

Cairo, Georgia--  Northside, Eastside, and Southside: three Grady County elementary schools that are the focus of a proposed reorganization plan.

"By consolidating services and resources, eliminating duplication, we can best help the students," says Superintendent, Steve Wooten.

Wooten says the proposal is because parents were bypassing the Cairo schools for others farther away in the county.  "Every school is a sound, academic school. It's just perceptions that parents have," he says.

Under the plan, Eastside would serve Grady County's Pre-K through second grade students. Southside would be for third through fifth grades, and Northside...  "We'll be able to fill that facility up with special programs and central office staff," says Wooten.

The economic impact is also a large part of this study. At Northside Elementary School, for example, Wooten says it would take about two and a half million dollars over five to seven years to bring the school up to state standards.  "It doesn't meet the state size as far as funding.  Extra local tax dollars have to go into Northside to operate the school," says Wooten.

Pros and cons have been submitted by faculty and staff. The top two pros are: students will benefit from better racial balances and there will be more social opportunities among their age group.

The top two cons are: More bus routes will be needed and some parents will have to travel to more than one school daily. 

"We're talking about a year or two to make this happen."  If the board adopts the plan. And if it does, Wooten says no one will be laid off.

Wooten says under the plan, some jobs would be lost due to regular turnover and retirement. That would save the school system up to $250,000 annually.

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