Well, the Floyd County Board of Education and Superintendent Glenn White decided to close Glenwood and Cave Spring elementary schools, despite tremendous opposition from the community. It’s time to start looking at reality.

While I celebrate all the recent announcements of large companies expanding and investing many millions of dollars into their facilities, those companies are located in Rome, thus those tax dollars benefit Rome City Schools, not Floyd County Schools. Strike one.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development dropped Floyd County from Tier Three to Tier Two, as noted in this paper last month, stating, “more incentives may be needed to promote future growth.” These incentives typically are tax breaks, which further cut into what FCS has to work with for schools and education. Strike two.

RCS’s budget for 2020 was just over $44 million for nearly 6,600 students. FCS’s budget was around $122 million for roughly 9,000 students, yet FCS is closing schools. Strike three.

Glenn White’s reliance on future E-LOST sales tax cash to build a mega-elementary school already has deep-pocketed opposition. This is likely to grow once parents experience their precious fifth graders being bused up to middle schools with teenagers, part of the plan to consolidate FCS middle schools as fifth through seventh grade. Strike four.

Based on census data, projected population growth in Floyd County (currently at just under 100,000) is only 2.66% through 2024. That’s a total growth across the next four years, which averages to about 660 people (not families) a year.

This “growth” is offset by natural attrition of deaths and people moving out of Floyd County, so any real population growth in all of Floyd County will be negligible. For example, from 2016 to 2019, the population only increased from 96,698 to 98,498 — just 1,530 people. Strike five.

By closing the only STEM-certified school in FCS (Cave Spring Elementary), the Floyd BOE effectively has eliminated public school access for 300 square miles (conservative estimate) in the southern half of Floyd County. Strike six.

Now that the decision to close schools and move students up into larger schools has been made, why not just skip the steps of building another multimillion-dollar school and begin to have talks with Rome City Schools about a unified/consolidated school system for all of Floyd County?

Because in five years or less, there will not be enough population or tax base to support two separate school systems. And, will the current Floyd BOE and Glenn White still be around to live with the consequences of their decisions?

I’m not writing to be a prophet of doom and gloom. I’m just looking at some straightforward data points and connecting the dots.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope Floyd County hits a couple of economic development home runs. I hope CSES can become a stand-alone charter STEM school bringing in families and students from a tri-county area, providing economic growth for this area.

Otherwise, this decision is a big “swing-and-a-miss” with the students, staff, teachers, and community of Cave Spring being told, “You’re out!”

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

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