Bibb plan calls for closing elementary schools

jmink@macon.comApril 17, 2014 

A facilities plan, which calls for the closure of some schools over the next five years, received unanimous approval Thursday from the Bibb County school board.

Under the new plan, King-Danforth, Jones, Morgan, Barden, Rice and Burghard elementary schools would be phased out. Board members voted to officially keep Riley and Porter elementary schools open. Both of those schools were scheduled to be shuttered under a previous plan.

Officials have discussed merging King-Danforth and Jones elementary schools into a new building at the current King-Danforth site; merging Morgan and Barden elementary schools at the current Morgan site; consolidating Rice and Burghard into the current Bloomfield Middle School, and then merging Bloomfield with Ballard-Hudson Middle School.

While Bernd elementary technically is scheduled to be phased out in the facilities plan, the school board has shown interest in keeping that school open and will monitor enrollment over the next five years, facilities director Jason Daniel told The Telegraph.

The plan approved Thursday is simply a guideline for the next five years and likely will change, Daniel said. The board still must approve individual closures, renovations and new schools. Some parts of the plan already have received the official green light. Board members voted Thursday to officially phase out King-Danforth Elementary School, and they approved a new elementary school to be built on the current King-Danforth site.

The board hired SP Design Group of Macon as the architect of the new school, which is projected to cost about $16 million.

The board also voted Thursday to phase out Burghard Elementary.

State officials assess schools

While officials addressed the buildings that house education, they also discussed achievement issues in 10 specific schools.

Low instruction standards and a lack of student engagement were among the problems listed by Georgia Department of Education officials, who presented their analysis of select Bibb schools.

The 10 schools analyzed were Brookdale, Bruce, Burdell-Hunt, Morgan, Rice, Riley and Williams elementary schools, and Ballard-Hudson, Rutland and Weaver middle schools. School district officials requested the state Department of Education review those schools as part of its Georgia Assessment of Performance on School Standards initiative.

State officials visited classrooms, interviewed school personnel and reviewed school documents, before scoring the schools. Most schools scored lowest on the instruction offered in classrooms. A theme among all schools was low student achievement, state officials said.

State officials highlighted specific concerns at those schools, including low leadership expectations, ineffective school improvement plans, a lack of supervision over special education services and lack of appropriate rigor in the classrooms.

The standards used in many classrooms “were the right standards for about two grades below where the kids were,” said Bobby Smith, with the school improvement division of the state education department.

Interim Superintendent Steve Smith said the problems in those schools can be addressed with enough focus on the targeted areas. The school system needs to improve professional learning, do a better job of setting goals and monitoring progress on reaching those schools, and better utilize state resources, the superintendent said.

“We did not address those problems with fidelity,” he said about the issues facing the schools. “We did not address the problems with the people who can help us address the problems best.”

All school personnel had positive attitudes about the critiques and said they were ready to address the problem areas, state officials said.

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 744-4331.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service