9-0, MCSD Board votes to close Edgewood Elementary, Marshall Mid - WRBL

9-0, MCSD Board votes to close Edgewood Elementary, Marshall Middle Schools

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

The doors of Edgewood Elementary and Marshall Middle Schools will not open for students in the fall.  After weeks of hearing emotional pleas from parents and the community, the board says it's a necessary measure to help make up for the $40 million budget shortfall this year.

It was a night of celebration- - also,  sorrow for some.  Students and teachers were recognized
for their accomplishments this year.  New principals were named for several schools.  However, hope was shattered for Edgewood and Marshall supporters who learned the schools would close for good.  "We're not hard hearted people.  We know that everybody loves their school and we're empathetic about it but business decisions have to be made," said Dr. John Phillips, MCSD Interim Superintendent. 

At the start of the hearing, board member Mark Cantrell motioned for a delay on the vote, for the citizen's conscience but he soon withdrew that motion, acknowledging the approaching state budget deadline.  

A show of hands and it was settled with a vote of 9 to 0- board members agreed, closing the schools was the right thing to do.  They were backed with support from all administration cabinet members.  The interim superintendent says his experience backs his proposal.

"I know it better than anybody in the district in terms of all phases of operation. So it's important that I took the lead but we tried to come up with the best plan we possibly could that would have lasting efficiency to it," said Phillips. 

"He just got done saying there would be no furlough days, so there better not be any furlough days in 2014," said concerned parent, Michelle Brown.

Many board members who have their own history with the schools, say it was not a vote of heart,  but reason.  Visibly, the decision weighed heavily on the hearts of students, "I Feel like it wasn't fair at all," said student Aziaza Smith. 

"They have to look at what they're doing to these children and these teachers.  These excellent teachers," said Brown.  "They basically pulled out a knife and stuck us in the back," said Nathan Smith, a concerned citizen.

Phillips says a five year study with the state of Georgia will now get underway.  The findings could determine whether more schools need to be refurbished, closed, or whether new schools should be built.

Brandice Hudson

Brandice Hudson is a weekend anchor and digital journalist for WRBL News 3. She comes to Columbus from sunny West Palm Beach, Fla. More>>

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