The Fayette County Republican Party held a public forum on education matters Sept. 10. Two members of the board of education were there to answer questions. (More than two would have constituted a quorum.) Here are four takeaways from the discussion about Booth Middle School.
The Fayette County Board of Education has a fiduciary responsibility that schools are fully utilized before requesting new construction or additions. Sound financial and business practices demand that the board exercise that responsibility.
However, one of the board members asked who wanted school attendance lines changed. I don’t know how many raised his/her hand (probably very few, if any), but this board member said the Board didn’t want to rezone.
Does this mean the board would rather spend an extra $15-20,000,000 in order to keep attendance lines as is?
As the population shifts and with spaces available in all of the other middle schools plus an almost empty middle school in Fayetteville, moving the attendance lines seems inevitable. If the new Booth holds 1,400 students, won’t the attendance lines need to be changed in order to fill the school?
When the Board asked staff and parents whether to build a new Booth or modernize the current one, they gave up their fiduciary responsibility again. It is obvious the board asked the wrong question.
Asking what Booth needed to be comparable to the other middle schools is a good method of giving the people involved a voice in the decision. Why is it that every time the renovation is mentioned, the cost goes up? What has been added since the original proposal?
Yes, Booth is 40 years old, but so are several other schools. Will they be rebuilt? And yes, renovation has gone on at other schools during the school year. And yes, Booth has had maybe three additions.
Can you even count how many additions McIntosh has had ? Should we rebuild MHS also? Why would the Board build a new school and saddle the system with additional operating costs when there are four other middle schools with capacity?
One member said we should not worry about the use of the current Booth if a new one is built. Even though he said the Board had discussed how Booth might be used, he couldn’t tell us yet what the use would be.
When and where has the repurposing of BMS been discussed? Why hasn’t the Board been forthcoming about the repurposing of the current building and the cost of repurposing it?
He said that new tenants at the current Booth would be good neighbors. Does he think that plopping a new middle school in the midst of an established neighborhood is being a good neighbor? What do the people living on Stagecoach and Carriage Lane think about having a middle school for a neighbor?
If Peachtree City is not funding the repaving of Carriage Lane and the widening and paving of Stagecoach, then who is? What spin will the Board use to justify paying for these expenditures?
Has the Georgia Department of Transportation been contacted about the additional traffic there will be at the intersection of Carriage Lane, Walt Banks and Highway 54? GDOT cannot react immediately. Does the Board know how long it took to get a traffic light at Jenkins Road and Highway 74?
I have yet to hear a VALID reason for building a new school. We taxpayers would like to hear the real reason the Board is leaning toward building this school. What is the Board hiding?
[Key served as a member of the Fayette County Board of Education for 20 years, beginning in 1993, including as board chair, and ending in 2016.]