The pending closure of Cave Spring Elementary School has sparked many questions in the western Floyd County town about how to adjust to the loss of a cornerstone.
During a Cave Spring City Council work session, several community members suggested ways to alleviate at least some of their concerns — such as very young kids taking lengthy daily bus rides to other schools.
To help ease the stress of parents next year, Kym Tillery wants to start a Georgia Lottery-funded pre-K program at the daycare center. Tillery is the director of Reach for the Stars of Cave Spring Daycare, which opened in 2020 in the city-owned daycare building next to Fannin Hall.
“I’ve been looking at my daycare babies and about 20 of them are going to be starting pre-K next year,” she said to the Council. “So we’re talking about these babies, 4-year-olds, on a bus — and between bus stops and the drive, it’ll be over an hour.”
The pre-K program would be made up of two classes of 22 students and would operate in a building attached to the daycare facility. Before- and after-school care would also be offered.
However, the building would need to undergo major renovations.
“The second half of the building is deteriorated and windows are falling in,” Tillery said. “We actually had to lock it up because we found people staying in there.”
Some of the needed renovations include installing a heating and air conditioning system, plumbing, replacing windows and removing a tree that’s sitting on the fence.
“All financing of the reconstruction would be at our cost,” Tillery said.
Some Cave Spring residents also have items stored in the building that need to be moved out before they can move forward.
Mayor Rob Ware voiced his support for the program and for Tillery, but said his main concern is a timeline for a new pre-K.
Tillery said they need to get started “yesterday” on renovations and collecting classroom supplies. She wants to have the Pre-K ready for the 2022-23 school year next August.
Ware said he’s also concerned about potential asbestos in the building, since it dates back to the 1950s.
“The council and I also need to talk about a lease agreement with you,” Ware said.
Reach for the Stars currently has a lease agreement for the daycare center but not the building they plan to use for pre-K.
What to do with the elementary school property?
A group of investors and Cave Spring community members are working together to create a proposal for the Cave Spring Elementary property.
“We can’t do anything about the past, so we want to look forward to help preserve what we can and plan for the future,” Judy Taylor told the council.
Cave Spring Elementary School is slated to close at the end of this school year. Floyd County Schools officials said the closure is due to the gap between student enrollment numbers compared to the number of buildings they own and operate.
Right now, the only other organization that has voiced interest in the property is the Cave Spring Housing Authority.
The new group, called The Cave Spring Community Coalition, wants to create a community center for residents, with an emphasis on students and senior citizens.
“We’d like to see before- and after-school tutoring there so that students can still be served there,” she said.
Taylor said she spoke with Boys & Girls Clubs officials in Rome and they are interested in expanding their program and services into Cave Spring.
And, with the strong senior community, Taylor said, they could create a health and wellness center with different services provided on the property, as well as exercise machines.
“Also, since it is a pretty big facility, we can do more than one or two things with it,” she said.
Before they can pitch the idea to the Floyd County Board of Education, Taylor said they need an endorsement from the council.
While Ware said it’s a great idea, the group still needs to put together a timeline and outline for the property, as well as apply for grants.