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Officials urge DCSS to slow down on eastside school closings

Dougherty County School Board member Darrel Ealum, left, and Albany City Commissioner Jon Howard held a joint news conference Friday where they urged the school board to slow down the process of closing two east Albany schools. Both men said they wanted the voices of their constituents to be heard during the process.

Dougherty County School Board member Darrel Ealum, left, and Albany City Commissioner Jon Howard held a joint news conference Friday where they urged the school board to slow down the process of closing two east Albany schools. Both men said they wanted the voices of their constituents to be heard during the process.

ALBANY, Ga. -- Dougherty School Board member Darrel Ealum and Albany City Commissioner Jon Howard conducted a joint news conference Friday at which they appealed to the School Board to slow the rush to close two schools on the east side of the Flint River.

Ealum represents District 6 and Howard Represents Ward I, both eastside districts.

On Wednesday, the School Board voted to accept a consultant's plan to close Sylvester Road Elementary and Dougherty Middle and to repurpose Magnolia Elementary.

"All we want is for the citizens of east Dougherty County is to have their voices heard in these closures," Ealum said. "I think we are moving too quickly and I'd like to slow this train down a little."

Two public hearings on the matter are set for next week at school administration building. The first at 5 p.m. Monday and the second is set for noon Thursday.

The School Board could then vote on the closures as early as the next board meeting, which is Feb. 11.

"I agree with Darrel that the process is moving too quickly," Howard said. "These closures will impact the surrounding communities and neighborhoods. I'd like for the board to get back with the consultant and see if we can tweak the numbers.

"There is no doubt some schools need to be closed, but why two on the east side?"

Howard feels the the east side is bearing the brunt for most of the county.

"Do I feel like the east side is being targeted? Absolutely. We've had two Winn-Dixies close and a local bank, now two schools?" Howard said. "If something bad happens in Dougherty County, it seems to always happen on the east side. We just want our voices heard."

Ealum added that the closure of Dougherty Middle would have an adverse impact on several neighborhoods

"We are not laboring under any illusions. Some schools need to be closed because the school system is losing students at an alarming rate," Ealum said. "But studies have shown that when community schools are closed, it leads to degradation of the surrounding community.

"We'd just like to see if there are any other options that have yet to be explored."

Comments

FryarTuk 1 year, 2 months ago

Darrel Ealum and Jon Howard get out you check books. Write us checks to pay for the consultants since you plan to sabotage what has already been determined. Write us more checks to cover the cost of the schools that we cannot afford to run and do not need.

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SlingShot 1 year, 2 months ago

Howard and Elaum don,t understand the reason these two and Magnolia need to be closed? Read the study that was done by the consultants. After all the board Elaum sits on voted to accept the studies. Or maybe he hasn't read it yet!Emphasis

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dickyboy 1 year, 2 months ago

It's all about the declining population of the schools..we don't need consultings to tell us this..

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MisterEd 1 year, 2 months ago

"But studies have shown that when community schools are closed, it leads to degradation of the surrounding community." ================================================

That ship sailed a long damn time ago, Darrel. Have you SEEN the community around Dougherty Middle?

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chinaberry25 1 year, 2 months ago

You said it in the interview, we lost Winn Dixie and a bank. This is the private sector and they are sending you a message. 85% of East Albany pays no taxes so they do not have a say. It they want the schools to stay open, let the offset the cost by paying for it. The children over there and dwindling and costs need to be cut. DO. Middle should go for sure. Expect major trouble where ever they go, but it will iron itself out in the long run. Albany has become an inner city and schools will have to change. It is the result of building all those low income housing and Albany will never ever recover from that. This was from the greedy white politicians of the 1960's. Paul Keenan warned of this but the powers that be were getting rich off of the building of all those projects. Now we are stuck. This problem will never go away. EVER!

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oldster 1 year, 2 months ago

The high school enrollments have also dropped considerably. When my kids went to Dougherty HS in the 1980's there were around 1400 students, last I saw Dougherty was down to less then 800 enrollment. It is always painful to shut down a school and consolidate with another, but it is sometimes necessary to do so.

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FlunkyMonkey 1 year, 2 months ago

I live in the area around Dougherty Middle and work in the area around Albany HIgh. I feels safer at home that I do at work....I agree that it is the east side of town that seems to be targeted when the budge needs to be cut. Why not "target" around the northwest side or the central Albany area or the South Albany area? The east side students will be bused across town. Why not reverse that? Also, why are students who live in East Albany around Cromartie Beach and Maple Street being bused to ALBANY HIGH? No damned wonder the numbers are down...these kids are being bused further to the west side of town. I know. I used to live in that area and would WALK to Dougherty High.

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mrcvsjr 1 year, 2 months ago

Not being rude. If the population is dwindling on that side of town, then the schools need to be closed. If the population is increasing on another side of town, why would you close a school. There are three other elementary schools on the Eastside of Albany, and a middle school. I know it may not be called Dougherty Middle, but it is a brand new school building that needs to be maximized. Rename it Albany-Dougherty Middle if you would like.

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mrcvsjr 1 year, 2 months ago

An to think, no Sister Ruby comment as of yet. I wonder why? Maybe the internet rumors are true about who she/he really is..........

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Ihope4albany 1 year, 2 months ago

What is so amazing in the pattern of responses that I view is that there continues to be the blame the victim notion. Until Albany-Dougherty commissions a report to show how this community redeveloped and repurposed the labor force that was abused for so long under the legalized systems of slavery and segregation, and now the socially acceptable (invisible) institutional racism, these comments get us no closer to solutions.

There truly has been a grave injustice down to humanity in the past and now because there is no one who will address the real, hard issues. When you undeveloped a social group to your benefit, then throw them away without a viable new system, the chaos that we see now is nothing. It will get worse if there is no intervention.

Thus, I hope that we will attend these hearings to get input on how to perhaps not let the East Side fully gentrify. Staving off this latest disinvestment is vital if Albany is ever to regain an economic boom.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 2 months ago

Tell those folks to take advantage of the free education and free lunches. Tell them to take baths, go to school, learn what is in the books, get a diploma, maybe a technical or college degree, get a job, have a family and be responsible citizens. They will then no longer be a slave having conquered the master of disaster inside themselves.

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VSU 1 year, 2 months ago

I went to Slyvester Road Elementary and Dougherty Jr High (As it was called back then) and Dougherty High. The schools were at capacity back then and they were good safe schools. Radium Springs students went to Dougherty High. Then at some point the busing system changed and Radium Springs students started going to Monroe, and it appeared to me that was the beginning stages of the decline of the Dougherty School system, at least on the East side. People started moving west, and then over to Lee County.

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