In the face of continual budget cuts, Hall County Schools officials say they can’t turn a blind eye to saving money where they can — even if that means closing a school.
“We need to focus on keeping the programs and opportunities for our children intact. And if using facilities more efficiently allows us to do that, then we certainly need to be open to the possibilities,” said superintendent Will Schofield.
The system is considering closing one of the existing 21 elementary schools.
“The middle and high schools are almost at 100 percent capacity, but that’s not the case at the elementary schools,” Schofield said.
“There are a significant number of seats that aren’t full at the elementary level. Right now, we are going through school-by-school to determine where space is.”
Schofield said in the past two years the school system has gone from gaining 650 to 1,000 students annually to growing by less than 100 students per year.
If closing a school is a possibility, staff will present their findings to the school board, which would in turn more than likely hold a public hearing before making a decision, Schofield says.
Last year, the system closed the old South Hall Middle School site on Poplar Springs Road and relocated students to C.W. Davis Middle on Falcons Parkway. The Davis students transitioned to the old Flowery Branch High location on Hog Mountain Road, and the high school students relocated to a new, larger building on Spout Springs Road.
The move, which allowed the system to close one location, helped save the system more than $1 million — or about 20 classroom teaching positions — Schofield says. If the system is able to close an elementary school, staff estimate that would save at least $800,000.