Board now set to decide on closures

Published 11:55pm Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Selma superintendent of education Donald Jefferson used part of Tuesday’s public hearing to provide hard numbers to validate his proposal to close Byrd Elementary School, School of Discovery and the Phoenix School.

In nearly each slide, the evidence mounted as to why these three schools were selected and what the school system could ultimately save by their closure.

But the decision on whether to close the schools or not does not rest with Jefferson, rather, it is now the job of the Selma City School Board.

“I keep coming back to our role in fiscal responsibility,” school board member Brenda Obomanu said at the end of the public session. “But, my thoughts are not with that alone. I want to make sure we are always progressing and closing schools does not sound like progress. I want to make sure we don’t take ten steps backwards to take just one step forward.”

Tuesday’s public hearing was the fourth and final public hearing scheduled by the school board to seek input from the community on the proposed closures.

A relatively small crowd was in attendance at the hearing that took place at the J.A. Pickard Auditorium on the campus of School of Discovery, a fact not lost on board member Frank Chestnut Jr.

“I want to say that I am somewhat disappointed tonight. I am disappointed in the parents. I would have thought there would have been more here tonight,” Chestnut said. It is Chestnut’s district where the three targetd schools are located. “I have talked to a lot of parents and I know they are passionate. I would have liked to have seen them here.”

Board chairman Henry Hicks said the proposed closures will be the main topic of Tuesday’s board work session.

“No one wants to close schools. I don’t want to close any schools. No matter what we decide we are going to make someone mad,” Hicks said following the meeting. “But, we are faced with a financial reality where we have to do something. The decisions by the Legislature and effects of proration have really put us here.

“If we do not do this, then what is our plan B? That is where we are.”

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