Fayette County school bus loading students from Tyrone Elementary
School closure public hearings message at Fayette County Middle School
Fayette County Middle School
Fayette County's Tyrone Elementary School
Fayette County's Brooks Elementary School
Fayette County School spokesperson Melinda Berry-Dreisbach
FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. -- Like many other metro Atlanta area school systems, Fayette County's says it needs to close several schools.
Not too many years ago it was getting several hundred new students each year.
But now it's losing about 500 students annually, partly due to a sagging economy and partly to an aging population.
The system says it needs to close four of its 30 schools and eliminate about 250 jobs to save around $15 million in next year's budget.
Closing the four schools, without eliminating any jobs, would save about $3 million of the $15 million.
One of those schools could be Tyrone Elementary, which is sad news to parent Tamara Dixon who transferred her son there thanks to its good reputation.
"This was actually his first year here; he's a first grader," she told 11Alive News on Monday.
"So if it closes, we're going to be very sad about this," Dixon added.
The other targeted schools include Brooks Elementary, Fayetteville Intermediate and Fayette Middle School.
That also saddens former middle school student Darrin Brewington.
"I was in band there, and it helped me grow as a musician; that's what I'm going to college for," he said.
Fayette County school officials appreciate the emotion involved, but say they can't afford to keep so many seats.
"None of the board wants this to happen, none of the administrators at the school system level wants this to happen, but the bottom line is it's just got to; we just don't have a choice anymore," said school spokesperson Melinda Berry-Dreisbach.
A crowd of about 900 showed up for a meeting on the closings last month and roughly 300 parents attended Monday night's school board meeting.
One parent at Monday night's meeting said there was fat in the budget and he "begged" the board to cut the fat before closing schools.
Another parent said closing the school in her community would "kill" the neighborhood.
The chair of the school board, Marion Key, told 11Alive News prior to Monday's school board meeting that the board probably has no choice but to close the schools.
"It seems that will will have to close all four right now," Key said. "We have cut staff, we have cut and cut the last few years. And this is our last option, now... These are the smallest schools. They have the smallest capacity. And there are schools nearby that these children can go to."
The superintendent's office said the approximate numbers of students affected by closing the schools would be:
Fayette Middle 780
Fayetteville Intermediary 480
Brooks Elementary 240
Tyrone Elementary 140
And the superintendent's office estimates the school system would save, annually, about $800,000 per closed school, or $3,200,000.
Two 7 p.m. public hearings will be held on the issue, February 14th and 25th at Sams Auditorium, 205 LaFayette Avenue in Fayetteville.
The school board is expected to vote in early March.