Supporters of a local school came out in force to the Bibb County Board of Education meeting Thursday night. More than 50 people with ties to L.H. Williams Elementary filled the board room, some holding signs with words like “Save Our School” and “We Love L.H. Williams.”
Rumors have been circulating that the school, located on Pursley Street in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood of Macon, is going to close. Superintendent Curtis Jones said in a blog post last week that no such decision had been made, and he reiterated that to audience members Thursday.
There’s a website, Facebook page and online petition with more than 625 signatures for “Save L.H. Williams.” A Facebook event post asked supporters to attend the Thursday meeting. Four people addressed board members during the public comment portion.
“I am an alumni of L.H. Williams, and my kids have gone to the school,” Ronald Miller told the board. “I think they have a great program over there. The school has been there a long time. If there’s anything I can do, I personally will help. I just don’t want the school to shut down.”
Sherri English has four children who go to L.H. Williams. She said the school is their family, and it’s the only one in their neighborhood. Vineville Academy, which is a mile from L.H. Williams, selects students through an application and lottery process and does not provide transportation to students, according to the school district.
“I’m a product of the Pleasant Hill community. L.H. Williams taught my father. If he were here today, he would be 95 years old,” Mary Anderson told the board. “Let L.H. Williams continue to be a part of the community. The community is coming back. Let’s have a school for those children to go to.”
The school is the last educational institution left in the Pleasant Hill community, Carol Stokes said after the meeting.
“It’s a historic district, and it always seems to get slighted,” said Stokes, who grew up in the community. “Nothing justifies taking away (residents’) ability to seek an education in their community.”
The L.H. Williams supporters clapped after each public comment. Per policy regulations, board members could not respond directly to the speakers. However, Jones addressed the group as a whole, saying he had not made the recommendation that L.H. Williams be closed.
“We’re in the process now of having an outside expert team review all of our facilities. I have not made a recommendation for our board for what we should do with our facilities,” he said. “I believe that I will have a recommendation with all of the information gathered by the end of December so I can make a recommendation to the board in January.”
Jones said the board appreciated the input from the community members and that their petition and comments would be factored into the decisions.