People who live in Albany neighborhoods where public schools could be shut down are concerned about the impact that could have on their communities.
To save money, the school board is considering a plan to close two schools in east Albany and repurpose one in west Albany. Critics on the east side say that would be another blow to their part of town.
Ricky Farrow lives across the street from Sylvester Road Elementary School. And like many others in the neighborhood, he was shocked to hear the school may close. "I thought there were a lot of kids in there, because there is a lot of traffic in here in the mornings," he said.
But there are not enough kids and that's the problem. Due to a declining student population in Dougherty County, a consultant is recommending board members close down Dougherty Middle School, Sylvester Road Elementary and Re-purpose Magnolia Elementary School.
It would help use taxpayers money more efficiently and streamline operations but hundreds of kids would have to switch schools. "He has been going to this school since kindergarten," said Jhawaski Morris. She's concerned about her son's education since a switch could take some schools up to 98% full.
"They are not going to be able to learn with to many kids in a classroom like that," said Morris. "What are they going to do with the building? Are they going to leave it, let vandals tear it up?" Farrow is concerned about crime. "If no one is going to come by to check on this building who is going to come by in the middle of the night to make sure no one is trying to break in."
Chris Bailey, a former student athlete at Dougherty Middle, says he's concerned about the impact on sports. "I think it's a big problem they are trying to take away our feeder school for our high school."
Commissioner John Howard lives near Dougherty Middle and two of the schools on the chopping block are in his ward. He's concerned about the economic impact this would have in East Albany. "It would be another eyesore, and I can attest, east Albany does not need another eyesore."
They are hoping to get those answers at next week's public hearings. That first hearing starts Monday at 5:00. The second will be February 7th at noon, both in the board room of the school administration building.