Byron Council votes to transfer building for proposed charter school

Byron Council votes to transfer building to charter school group

Telegraph correspondentMarch 12, 2013 

BYRON -- City Council voted unanimously Monday to give a former elementary school building the city owns to a group working to start a charter school in Byron.

Saying the city can’t just deed over property to the group, Mayor Larry Collins said there were ways the city could give the property for the school, probably involving an intermediary agency which would facilitate the transfer.

Collins suggested the matter be turned over to Byron City Attorney Joan Harris to find legal ways to transfer the property. The suggestion to seek the best legal means to make the transfer became part of the motion to give the property.

Collins is a member of the board of governors for the proposed school. He said each council member spoke for himself, but that for “me and mine, we’re for it.”

He said it was a requirement that the high school receive students from Byron Middle School which would feed into its programs. A graduate of the former Byron High School, Collins has said he has long hoped to see a high school in his hometown.

The matter came to council on recommendation of council’s public buildings committee, chaired by Councilman Mark Waters. Waters reiterated his committee’s judgment that the property be transferred “as efficiently as possible.”

Collins said making the property available for the charter school was a “reverse process of the hoops the city had to jump though” 10 years ago when the city received the property from the Peach County Board of Education. There was little discussion after the proposal was presented to council by B.J. Walker, who spoke on behalf of the charter school group.

Walker said there had been no survey or examination of the property yet to determine how much acreage was involved or needed to start the school.

Walker has said plans are for the high school to start with freshman and sophomore classes of 125 students each. He said he believed enrollment would increase and the school would grow with Byron. He said he believed the school would attract new residents to the city.

There is currently only one high school in Peach County, located in Fort Valley. According to reports, the group is working hurriedly to meet requirements to open the school by August 2014.

In a different public building matter, council agreed that $3,550 be spent toward repainting the city’s Train Depot Caboose which is operated by the city’s historical society. Under maintenance agreements between the city and the society, the city will pay $3,300 and the historical society $250 for a $2,800 paint job and a $750 re-lettering project on the caboose.

Contact Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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