Columbus community continues to voice opposition against closing - WRBL

Columbus community continues to voice opposition against closing two local schools

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Recently Muscogee County's Interim Superintendent of schools Dr. John Phillips proposed a budget adjustment plan to the school board that includes staff layoffs and the closing of two local schools, Edgewood Elementary and Marshall Middle School. During Monday night's work session it was obvious that the plan is still fresh on everyone's mind.

Dr. Phillips explained that currently the Muscogee County School District is facing a $40 million short fall in the upcoming budget.

Dr. Phillips said closing Edgewood and Marshall Middle would significantly reduce that deficit.

"The bottom line is, just by closing those two schools, just those two schools, we can save 10 million dollars," said Dr. Phillips.

Dr. Phillips also told the board that the size of the student body as well as both schools' locations were the two factors that contributed most to his recommendation to shut them down.

"We just cannot continue to have these small neighborhood schools that we once enjoyed because of the cost associated with it," said Dr. Phillips.

However critics of the Superintendent's recommendation said neighborhood schools are what keep a community strong.

"I feel that if our kids are moved to other schools, then things would start falling back into how they used to be," said Felicia Wilbur, the President of Marshall Middle School's PTO.

During the public agenda Wilbur told the board that as a parent she has seen the improvement in Marshall in recent years and is dis-heartened that their progress is being threatened.

"Marshall Middle School's attendance rate has increased from 240 something kids in 2010 to March of 13, 250 something," said Wilbur.

Local Reverend Richard Jessie along with motivational speaker Marquis Averette also addressed the board during the work session. Both strongly opposed the closing of the schools. They challenged the board to come up with other alternatives.

Two public forums regarding the closing of both schools are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday at 6 pm, each at the respective schools.

School Board Chair Person Rob Varner said a vote approving or rejecting the Superintendent's proposed plan is expected at the next board meeting on Monday.

Liz Buckthorpe

Liz joins the WRBL news team from all the way from New England. More>>

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