Should Lowndes, Valdosta schools merge? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Should Lowndes, Valdosta schools merge?

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April 15, 2008

Valdosta - Could school consolidation help Valdosta/Lowndes County grow even more?

While the idea of consolidation to two school systems has been tossed around for years, economic leaders want to take a serious look at the issue and whether one combined school system could help economic development

When an industry is looking to move to Lowndes County, there are many factors they consider.

"Companies make decisions on where they are going to locate or whether they are going to expand into an area based on the structured organizations of the schools," says Leroy Butler.

While the Industrial Authority has done an impressive job of attracting new industries, some have opted to move elsewhere. Could the school system be the reason why?

"What if we consolidated schools? What would be the economic impact of that virus continuing on the current path which is two separate school systems," says Rusty Griffin.

The topic of consolidating the city and county school systems has been around for years and now the Chamber of Commerce wants a legitimate answer to how it might affect community growth.

They've set up a task force of community leaders who just hired the Carl Vincent Institute and Fanning Institute from UGA to find out.

"We'll move it from the realm of speculation to having data and having done a scientific study. Then you'll know the answers to these questions," says Butler, a member of the task force.

"It might be that the current we've got would be the best route for the community," adds Griffin, the Task Force Chairman.  "So we are completely open to what the outcome may be."

They hope the findings, whatever they may be, will help them improve the school systems thus creating a better standard of living for the community and provide a better education for it's students.

The study is expected to be completed by the end of the summer.

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