Committee deals with growth

By Greg Gelpi

Construction, funding and school boundaries were discussed by a school board committee as the system continues to confront a growing population.

The Facility/Purchasing/Transportation Committee of the Clayton County Board of Education reviewed a number of growth issues at its meeting Thursday, including a timeline for extending the current special purpose local option sales tax.

The 1-cent tax, which is helping open three new schools in the next two years, will expire Dec. 31. The public would have to vote on and approve extending the SPLOST in the fall in order for there to be no gap in collections.

With the opening of two elementary schools in the fall and a new Jonesboro Middle School, which will be behind Arnold Elementary, the school board will have to accept new school boundaries. The boundaries will determine who goes to what school.

Ronnie Blake, the assistant superintendent of auxiliary services, said he will make a presentation of the new boundaries at the next board meeting.

"When we open schools, we have to move students to balance the number of students at schools," Blake said. "There's no way to open schools without moving students."

He explained to the committee that he has created several draft proposals, but did not have a proposal to present as of yet.

Blake said he tries to move as few students as possible when boundaries change. He considers the capacity of each school that is being impacted, as well as travel time, bus routes and other transportation issues.

"Students get emotionally attached to schools," Blake said. "We want students to get emotionally attached to schools."

Opening schools will take pressure off of overcrowded schools.

For instance, there isn't room to put another temporary classroom at Brown Elementary, said John Ramage, the assistant superintendent of facilities, construction and purchasing. The school has 23 temporary buildings and is 238 students beyond capacity.

Kendrick Middle, which will be aided by the opening of a new middle school in the fall of 2005, is 568 students beyond capacity.

The committee will recommend to the full board that the elementary school on the campus of Kemp Elementary be called "Kemp Primary." The new school will serve kindergarten through second grade. Kemp Elementary will serve third through fifth grades.

The committee will recommend that the board ask the public to submit names for the other new elementary school and the new middle school.

In other business, the committee discussed the status of ongoing construction projects, including the aquatic center, the capital outlay application and commemorative plaques in new schools.