Unanswered questions about replacing Booth Middle School

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Before voting on whether to build a replacement Booth Middle School or remodel the current one, there a few questions that need to be answered.

What are the operating costs of the current Center of Innovation [on Hood Avenue in Fayetteville]? What research has been done to determine the effectiveness of the current Center of Innovation? What formal feedback do you have from the students who have completed programs there? How does having courses taught at the Center of Innovation affect the course scheduling at the home high schools?

What will be the operating costs of a stand-alone vocational school at the current Booth building? What guarantee do you have that Southern Crescent or Clayton State will teach classes there? Why would CSU want to move out of the building they are currently in? If Southern Crescent teaches the third level of pathway courses, how will a student who does not meet SC’s admission requirement complete the pathway?

Building a replacement Booth will cost at least $50 million. How much more will it cost to upgrade the current Booth for the new programs to be offered there? How much will the operating costs be?

It looks as if the cost of this whole project will be $60-70 million. How will these costs affect the instruction of all students in the county? Teachers are already saying that they do not have the supplies and equipment that they need. How will throwing all of your eggs in one  Booth basket affect the educational opportunities of the other students in the system?

There is a rumor going around in the school system that all Career and Technical Education courses and all AP courses will be taught in the current Booth building. Is this true? Why would the Board want to do this?

Remember that the Board is at the top of the pecking order. Is the Board willing to roll the dice and spend $60 million on a replacement school and the renovation of the current school without knowing the final costs or whether having a stand-alone tech school is effective?

Is the Board willing to deny the other schools in the system their needs in order to build a replacement school that is not needed?

There is a renovation plan that will give the Booth community all of its needs and will cost less than half the cost of a replacement school. There is adequate space in other facilities in the system for the COI. Please consider the answers to these questions before you vote.

Marion Key

Fayetteville, Ga.

[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.]