As a part of the Floyd County School Board work session on Friday morning, Interim Superintendent Glenn White recommended the school system permanently close Cave Spring Elementary and Glenwood Primary in 2022.
Before any action is taken on any closing recommendations the board will have to hold public meetings as well as meetings with local school governance teams for input. The board would then have to vote on the measure.
“We have to make those decisions to stay on firm financial grounds,” White said. In order to stay away from laying off staff, like in the 2013 reduction in force or other such measures, he said they’re having to make tough decisions.
The school system is currently at 9,300 students and the student population continues to decline. And they’re continuing to foot the bill for maintaining facilities designed for a larger student population.
This isn’t the first time the idea of closing schools in the shrinking school system. Midway School on Rockmart Highway closed in 2015 and McHenry Primary will officially close after the sixth and seventh grade graders shift back to Pepperell Middle School.
White said after the meeting that the school system has too many buildings and not enough students.
The closing of schools would be part of a long term plan to ensure the system’s fiscal strength.
“This is the first step in a long-term process of making FCS financially sound,” he said. “All FCS faculty and staff members will continue to have a position within the school district regardless of school closures.”
Until that time, White recommended shifting around students for the 2021-2022 school year.
All fifth-grade classes would move to the middle school for their area so all Floyd County middle schools will house fifth, sixth, and seventh grades. All Floyd County high schools will remain grades eight through 12.
Pepperell Middle School will move to its new facility during the summer of 2021.
Pepperell Primary School second grade will move to Pepperell Elementary School. Pepperell Elementary will house second, third and fourth grades. Pepperell Primary will remain Pre-K, kindergarten, and first grade.
Planning days and virtual learning
The school system is also planning to give their virtual learning students the choice to continue learning online for the rest of the 2020-2021 school year.
Parents will have a window to decide to take in-person classes or the virtual learning classes from Monday, Sept. 21, to Friday, Oct. 2, at 4 p.m. At that point, students will be locked into their chosen in-person learning or the virtual academy until the end of the school year.
That decision, White said, came down to serious difficulties in scheduling.
“The scheduling issues are massive,” White said. “It’s really stressful right now.”
He talked about elementary school classes who had to switch teachers after two weeks of classes because of scheduling teachers for virtual learning programs.
“That’s traumatic for younger children,” White said. “We can’t continue to do that all year long.”
The school system will likely take three additional teacher planning days for the current semester due to COVID-19 and scheduling-related issues.
The board will be voting during Monday’s regular board meeting to make Oct. 19-20 and Nov. 30 teacher planning days and student holidays. They’re trying to tie those days into the fall and Thanksgiving breaks in order to deep clean all school facilities.