Reaction to Richmond County BOE audit

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News 12 First at Five, March 14, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga. --- Reaction is coming fast to an audit of the Richmond County school district. The audit pointed out ways the district could improve, including closing five schools. Richmond County School Board Member, Frank Dolan said the main reasons to shut down the schools are declining enrollment and money. There are 5,600 empty seats in Richmond County Schools. Richmond County School Board Member, Frank Dolan said It's a sobering number.

"There's no one thing that needs to be fixed. It's a lot of little things," Frank Dolan said.

Dolan said Richmond County needs to attract business to Augusta, because more jobs means more families, and more students. The biggest pro of the school system plan is the savings...$11.7 million. But that would come from closing five schools.

"It's going to be very traumatic for neighbors. The bus routes going to change, local neighborhood schools are going to's just going to be very painful," Dolan said.

Dolan said they're losing state money because of declining enrollment.

"As we have less students going...we're getting less funds. There's a negative spiral and its spiraling down," Dolan said.

The MGT Performance Review of the Richmond County School System show's Tubman Middle School's student enrollment as being 332 under capacity, making it a candidate for closure based on the MGT plan. Tubman Middle School Principal, Wayne Frazier said he's not in fear of which schools might close.

"At the end of the day I'm sure that whatever decision is made is gonna be the best thing to do for our children," Principal Wayne Frazier said.

"We have other counties nearby us that are building schools and adding people everyday. They're overcrowded with portables. We don't have that problem. We have the reverse problem," Dolan said.

School Board members said they want to make any changes as painless as possible.

"At the end of the day. If we are forced to consolidate this and save the money and save $11 million hopefully you're children will get a better education just in a different building than what you may have thought," Dolan said.

Dolan said if the project is approved, the $11.7 million saved will be used to enhance other schools, and provide resources like more computers. This audit is just a suggestion of what the district should do. The School Board will play a major role in deciding what, changes will be made.

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