I attended the community forum at Coosa High School regarding the closing of Cave Spring Elementary (along with about 150 other people). The superintendent and the Floyd Board of Education said they would listen. At least three solid proposals were brought forth by the community as alternatives to closing CSES. Will those actually be explored?

The forum started with two of the superintendent’s assistants regaling us with hard-to-read Powerpoint slides regarding unused classrooms in the county, and the $4.6 million in repairs and renovations needed for CSES. (“We’re not going to spend money on a building we’re going to close.”) Which, again, sounds like the decision to close CSES has already been made.

I was curious so I looked at the Georgia Department of Education website and discovered there is a game plan for closing schools, unclearly titled: 160-5-4-.16 (a) 9 Educational Facility Site, Construction, and Reimbursement (by the Facilities Services Unit).

In this document it defines a Phased-Out Building as a building at an instructional facility identified by the (Local Educational Agency) in which the cost of renovations and modifications of that building to bring the building up to current standards would be greater than the state funding to replace that building and the LEA has decided to no longer use that building for instructional purposes.

Check. We heard repeatedly about the $4.6 million cost for CSES, and that the county has “too many buildings and not enough people.” So McHenry, CSES and Glenwood are targeted for “phase out.”

Another step in the “phase out” plan includes having public hearings. Two community forums have happened. Check.

Another step is to ”include the intended future use of that facility, the facility at which the current students will be attending school, when a replacement facility or additions to other facilities (if needed) will be constructed, and the estimated date the building or facility will no longer be used for instructional purposes.”

We were told CSES students would be transported to Alto Park Elementary and of the grand plan to construct a mega-elementary in the Coosa area based on the upcoming E-SPLOST to provide funding for that new building, and that all the closings would be finished by 2022. Check.

Superintendent White’s contract is up for renewal in (wait for it) 2022. Convenient.

What was left out of the presentation was this final part of the phase out plan from the GA DOE (emphasis added):

”A school system may earn replacement funds for a phased out building or facility in accordance with O.C.G.A. 20-2-260 if before that building or facility is phased out the local facilities plan has documentation that the renovation and/or modification needed for continued use of that building or facility is greater than the state funding the system would receive and the costs estimates are verified by the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) Facilities Section and only if construction of a replacement facility or additions to other facilities is scheduled to start within the life cycle of the current local facilities plan and only if additional classrooms are needed because of phasing out a facility and/or building(s).”

So, will the Floyd BOE get some money from the state for closing all these elementary schools? Check ... is in the mail?

John A. Page is pastor of Cave Spring United Methodist Church.

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