Bibb BOE’s Promise Neighborhood decision will have ‘ramifications’

jmink@macon.comJune 5, 2014 

The Bibb County school board’s decision to terminate a funding agreement with the Macon Promise Center will have ramifications for the project, the executive director of the center’s landlord said Thursday.

The school board voted Tuesday to ax a memorandum of understanding, which required the school district to pay up to $325,000 a year to the Georgia Partnership for Individual and Community Development for operations of the Promise Center. The school district will continue to lease a portion of the Anthony Road building for $575,000 a year and still is involved with the Macon Promise Neighborhood initiative.

“I am disappointed with this decision of the Board of Education to rescind its prior commitment to partner with (the partnership) as it relates to the Macon Promise Neighborhood initiative and the impact it will have on this community,” Cliffard Whitby said in an email to The Telegraph. “Unfortunately this decision will have significant ramifications for this project.”

School officials said they did not want to pay up to $325,000 a year for services they can complete with their own maintenance staff. The memorandum, which was signed in October 2012, included a clause allowing the school board to opt out of the agreement.

“We’re perfectly capable of maintaining that building,” school board member Lynn Farmer told The Telegraph, “rather than giving away $325,000 that could be used for educational purposes.”

Since the school board pulled out of the agreement, the partnership will now have to find alternative funds for the project, Whitby told The Telegraph. Asked about the school district maintaining the property itself, Whitby said he has not discussed that prospect with the school board.

“We look forward to having that conversation,” he said, “but as of ... today, we have not had any communication with the school board.”

In a written statement, Alveno Ross, president of the Georgia Partnership for Individual and Community Development, said the partnership will continue to work with the school board on the Macon Promise Neighborhood initiative.

“This termination ... does not mean that the collaboration between CGPICD and the Board of Education stops as of June 15,” Ross said. “The efforts to provide services to the people of Tindall Heights, Unionville and Southwest Macon shall carry on and the revitalization of the Promise Center on Anthony Road shall continue.”

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 744-4331.

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