Education

Bibb schools consolidate amid declining enrollment

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Due to a decline in student enrollment, Bibb County school board members voted Thursday night to consolidate two elementary schools into a new building.

“Enrollment was expected to decline with the opening of Dream Academy” school Superintendent Curtis Jones said of the charter school that delayed its opening originally set for this year. “It didn’t open, but decline in enrollment in this district has continued.”

Riley and Brookdale elementary schools are each about 50 percent at capacity for student enrollment. Next fall, Riley students will study at Brookdale while construction starts on a new school building at the same Greenbriar Road address as Riley.

In 2020, Brookdale will close and students will be consolidated with Riley students at the new school.

Asked what would happen to the old Brookdale building near Freedom Park, Jones said, “I do not plan to let it sit there.”

Earlier this month, the Georgia Department of Education announced that Riley Elementary school is among the lowest performing 5 percent schools in the state.

About 21 percent of its third-graders read at or above grade level compared to Brookdale Elementary, where 34 percent are reading at grade level, according to the latest Governor’s Office of Student Achievement school grades report.

Enrollment in Bibb County schools is expected to decline by about 106 students per year based on information from the past five years that was presented to the Board of Education.

A surplus of 91 elementary school classrooms is expected by 2021.

In a separate but related matter, the board voted unanimously to sell Bellevue Elementary on Napier Avenue, which has been vandalized and has fallen into disrepair since it closed in 2015.

New Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church offered $110,000 for the property, which has a market value of $140,000, according to a meeting memo.

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