Two inescapable tasks guaranteed to create turmoil

January 22, 2014 

There are a couple of necessary tasks most of the 180 school boards in Georgia will -- over time -- have to face. Both tasks are difficult. One task is finding a superintendent. The process is rigorous and fraught with land mines. The other is redistricting, closing or merging schools. Of the two tasks, the latter is the most immediately volatile.

As we know in Bibb and Houston counties, choosing a superintendent that is not the right fit for the community takes a while for the fuse to burn, but even the hint that a school will be closed (Bibb County) or district lines changed (Houston County) and the customers of the impacted schools come out in protest.

Such was the case when the facilities plan in Bibb County -- not yet approved by the school board -- was contemplated. Parents and children singing the praises of Riley Elementary came out in force. Same thing occurred in Houston County when the school system looked, as it must, to rezone some of its schools.

There are new buildings coming online in Houston. Some 500 to 600 students for the new Langston Road Elementary will come from five other schools in Perry. The Houston system will also open the renovated Linwood Elementary, renamed Pearl Stephens Elementary. Along with the move there will be grade realignment with grades third through fifth headed for Pearl Stephens and pre-K through second grade attending C.B. Watson Primary.

Riley parents, for now, are happy. Their school has been taken off the chopping block. Bernd Elementary is next up to try the save-my-school tactic. Parents of both systems will not know the outcome of plans until next month, but one thing is certain: Some schools in Bibb County have to close and in Houston, there are new buildings that must be populated. And there is another certainty: In both systems there will be disappointed parents and students. There is not a process of change that can please everyone.

At least Houston County’s superintendent, Robin Hines, is staying put, but Bibb County has to look for its next superintendent while figuring out the best mix and use for facilities and the budgets they create.

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