From left, Dougherty County School Board member James Bush, Board Chairperson Carol Tharin, DCSS Executive Finance and Operations Director Ken Dyer, and Interim Superintendent Butch Mosely go over financial documents during a break in the BOE meeting Monday night. (March 11, 2013)
ALBANY, Ga. -- The Dougherty County School Board discussed its options Monday night after recently being asked by Albany State University officials to move the Albany Early College prep program from ASU's campus.
AEC, which comprises 360 students in grades 6-11, has called ASU's Andrews Hall home for eight years. The DCSS and ASU just late last year hammered out a three-year contract with a two-year option and a $2,000 per month lease.
The DCSS also has spent at least $350,000 renovating the building's top two floors.
"ASU has asked us to abandon the AEC Building," DCSS Interim Superintendent Butch Mosley said. "The bottom line is they'd like us out as quickly as possible. I was told by (ASU President) Everette Freeman that (University System of Georgia chancellor Hank Huckaby) wanted to move in another direction.
"There was no discussion about the children; they want us out of that building. I am bringing this before the board to see what you want to do."
That prompted angry reactions from several Board members.
"If they want that building back they are going to have to give us our money back," Board Chair Carol Tharin said. "We have a contract that is less than seven months old and we invested in major renovations to that building. I don't think we should move an inch until we get our money back."
Board member James Bush agreed.
"We have a contract and we need to stay in that building until they reimburse us for the improvements," Bush said. "I just wish the other player would have given us an idea this was coming before we spent all that money on renovations.
Board member Darrel Ealum then asked, "Are they (ASU) really turning their backs on the school?"
Executive Director of Finance and Operations Ken Dyer quickly answered.
"They (ASU) are still committed to the concept. They just don't want us to be using that facility any longer," he said.
After the board finished discussing the matter, Mosely said he would talk to the DCSS attorney about the problem and would begin negotiations with ASU.
In other items of note, Tharin announced a special called meeting to discuss possible school closures and consolidations at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the school administration building. She added it will be a board-only discussion.
A final vote on possible closures was set for the next Board meeting, which will be at 11:30 a.m. March 27 at Albany Middle School.