New plan keeps East Clayton Elementary open

By Curt Yeomans


East Clayton Elementary School is no longer facing the prospect of being closed next year.

In September, Clayton County Public Schools officials announced they wanted to "phase out" the Ellenwood school in 2011, as part of the district's proposed five-year facilities plan, because of concerns about the safety of students near Forest Parkway. Students at the school would have been distributed among five neighboring schools under that initial plan.

During a presentation made to the Clayton County Board of Education about revisions to the proposed facilities plan on Monday, school system Superintendent Edmond Heatley emphasized the plan had been revised to keep East Clayton open for the foreseeable future.

The superintendent said he had heard from several teachers and parents opposed to the school's closure since September, joking during the school board meeting that some of those against the closure had been "stalking" him.

"I want to emphasize that East Clayton Elementary School will remain an active school under this plan," Heatley said. "That means all of you teachers and parents who have been calling and e-mailing me to ask that we not close the school can stop doing so."

While school system officials continue to have concerns about how safe the school's location is for children, Heatley and Clayton County Public Schools Architect Klaus Darnall said they will work with county and state transportation officials to alleviate those concerns. Those efforts will mainly focus on making Forest Parkway safer on the stretch of roadway that passes in front of the school, Darnall said.

In September, when district officials were floating the idea of closing East Clayton, school system Chief Operations Officer Cephus Jackson said Forest Parkway is approximately 50 yards from the school's entrance.

"There have been some concerns about the proximity of the school to the road," Darnall said on Monday. "We will be meeting with officials from the department of transportation for the county to discuss putting up guardrails to provide additional safety for students at that facility."

The school board is scheduled to vote on the revised five-year facilities plan at its Feb. 1 business meeting.