More than 100 parents, students and staff members returned to Jones Elementary School after hours Monday to discuss the school’s possible closing.
“If we speak up, they will listen,” said Chad Cobb, Jones Parent Teacher Organization president. “This isn’t a done deal. We must speak up.”
On Tuesday morning, the Hall County Board of Education announced it will hold a public meeting regarding the potential closing of Jones Elementary from 6:30-8:30 p.m. April 13. The meeting will be held at the school.
During its March 22 meeting, the Hall County Board of Education discussed possibly closing the elementary school as a way to save funds next year. In the face of extreme cuts in state funding, officials estimate that closing the school and relocating students to other facilities could save the system about $1 million.
Because the system’s budget is tight, system officials say they can no longer afford to operate smaller schools like Jones when there are more than 700 empty seats within five miles at other schools. Jones’ anticipated enrollment for next school year is about 350 students.
With a largely Latino population and many students coming from homes where they are the only English speakers, teachers and parents say smaller class sizes at Jones have allowed students to succeed academically.
Although Hall administrators said a laundry list of needed repairs totaling more than $300,000 is another reason to consider closing the school, Jones staff say that isn’t the case and that the building has been well-maintained.
During the meeting, parents were given the opportunity to write down questions they had about the school’s possible closing. The questions will be compiled, and Cobb said he expects to present them to the school board and staff prior to the upcoming meeting between the school community and school board.
“We need each and everyone of you at that meeting. We need to let the board know how the school’s closing will affect not just the (students), but everyone in the building,” Cobb said. “I hope that we can convince the board that there is still a future here at Jones.”