Fight to save schools continues

Published 7:05 pm Wednesday, March 9, 2011

During Tuesday night’s public hearing at J.A. Pickard Auditorium several questions were asked of the school board members. But they all fell under the same category, why?

As school board members continue to look toward consolidating Byrd Elementary and the School of Discovery into others in the area, parents facing the possible relocation of their children continue to wonder why other schools aren’t being considered as well.

Margaret Reaves, who has two children enrolled at Byrd Elementary School, said she also needs answers to her children’s questions.

Email newsletter signup

“What do I tell my 9-year-old that keeps reading that his school is about to close?” she said. “I don’t know what we are supposed to tell him when he might have to go somewhere else.”

A number of factors are going into the decision of whether to close the schools, Selma Superintendent Don Jefferson said.

“We’re not just looking at one thing, we’re looking at any number of things,” he said. “That’s why we want to hear from you. We want to hear everyone’s ideas and we encourage you to come to our work sessions.”

Some of the factors in the case of Byrd are the age of the building and declining student population. Byrd, Jefferson said, will have only 133 students enrolled in the next school year. This population only allows for two cafeteria workers, which makes it harder to function effectively.

Others felt there were additional factors at work. Byrd School PTO president Dorothy Reeves said she has heard race discussed in the community.

“If that’s the reason then shame on the school board for not teaching us to work together,” she said.

Others who attended said they don’t feel these schools are being targeted unjustly.

“I don’t feel like we are just picking on Byrd School,” audience member Patrice Walker said. “Everybody knows about the economy. Selma isn’t the only school system talking about this. Let’s get with it and start working with the school board.”

Consolidations within the school system would not become a reality until the 2013-2014 school year. However, District 1 Representative Holland Powell said changes might become necessary much sooner.

“If you look at the shortfalls you will see we’re not going to be able to wait that long,” he said.

The next public hearing will be held March 29 at 6 p.m. at the School of Discovery, however, school board members encouraged citizens to attend work sessions the first Tuesday of each month in the central office.