Andrea Wilson, of Albany, lives across the street from Sylvester Road Elementary School. She says she's disappointed in the Dougherty County School Board's decision this week to close the school, noting that all three of her children have attended the school. (March 29, 2013)
ALBANY, Ga. -- Andrea Wilson leaned against the fence of her home on Olivia Street and glanced back wistfully over her right shoulder at a bustling Sylvester Road Elementary School.
"All three of my kids went to that school, even my baby (who is in the second grade) is disappointed," Wilson said, sighing.
Earlier this week, the Dougherty County School Board, citing the district's declining enrollment numbers and a money crunch, voted 5-2 to shutter Dougherty Middle School and Sylvester Road and to repurpose Magnolia Elementary.
DCSS officials say closing the two schools and repurposing Magnolia will save the district $2 million a year and save $11 million in SPLOST (special-purpose local-option sales tax) money, which can then be used at other schools.
Sylvester Road's students will be reassigned to Turner and Jackson Heights elementary schools. While those two schools are nearby, they aren't directly across the street.
"It (closing) is really going to mess up a lot of parents around here," Wilson said. "A lot of these kids walk to school. Now they are going to have to catch the bus. What if they're late for the bus? This is a money thing and has nothing to do with the kids."
The closure will also put a ding in Wilson's personal income. She currently keeps four children in her home in a small after-school care.
"I've been watching a few kids after school for the past 11 years. They just walk over from the school," Wilson said. "That will be gone soon and will really mess me up."
Victoria Lewis lives four houses from Wilson. She, too, is unhappy.
"I don't like it at all," Lewis said. "I have two grandkids in the first and second grade in that school. In the morning, they just walk over. (The closing) is gonna hurt a lot of people around here.
"I was praying it wasn't going to happen. Sylvester Road is a fine school with some really good teachers."
Across U.S. Highway 82, Dewayne Perry, who has lived in the Eastgate Subdivision for the past 45 years, was equally upset.
"I think they messed up big time," Perry said. "I went to Sylvester Road back in the day. Not everybody around here has cars. What if they miss the bus?"
Just after 2 p.m. the cars begin queuing up to pick up students. Synthia Walker was first in line to pick up her three children from the school on Friday.
"I don't like them closing a good school and I still don't understand why they did it," Walker said. "I was hoping they'd come up with a solution. My kids really like the school and their teachers."
Tracy Edwards, the mother of a kindergarten student, wasn't happy either.
"I am unhappy because we stay only a couple of blocks away, Edwards said. "Driving to Turner will make a small difference to us, but my baby was just getting used to this school and the teachers. But it's not the end of the world for us either."
Tammy Bullock, waiting patiently to pick up her second grader, was saddened by the closure.
"I went to school here, I have a child here and I volunteer at this school," Bullock said. "I understand why schools needed to be closed, and in the long run it won't make much of a difference to my family."