Parents say community could collapse without Collins Elementary

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News 12 This Morning/ Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014

RICHMOND COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW) -- "Closing Collins should not be an option," Lanie Kennedy said.

Students also agree with parent Kennedy at the second town hall meeting to discuss possibly closing Collins K through 8 school.

"All I want to say is ever since I've been going to Collins I've learned so much," said 2nd grade student Geneise Butler. "All I am asking you is please don't shut down our school."

"I am very upset you say you want to close Collins," said an 8th grade student.

"We're setting our kids up for failure," Kennedy said. "If we close this school and put the 6th through 12th graders together."

Kennedy, mother of six who went through Collins, still has two children at the school and she says they, too, don't like the idea of leaving.

"When I said, 'it's a possibility that you all are going to have to go somewhere else' it just crushed them," she said.

She says the K-8 model gives children at Collins extra support.

"They're a family and they're very close-knit here," said Kennedy.

Kennedy said she's also been PTA president for the last two years at Collins. She worries parent involvement could decrease with some parents having a longer commute to their new schools.

"That's a longer commute for me. Mind you, I'm a working parent. Their dad is a working parent," she said.

In yet another packed meeting, parents argue closing the school will impact more than just the students.

"If you take Collins away, then I feel like [they're] shutting down the whole community," said Claudia Brown, a community member at the meeting.

"These peoplel have a genuine sense of hope within Collins. It's not just a school, it's a staple in a predominantly black community," said another Collins supporter at the meeting.

And when asked what Kennedy and her children would do if the school is closed--

"I have no idea...I don't...I don't..." she replied.

A major reason consultants suggest closing Collins is enrollment numbers due to families leaving nearby community, Cherry Tree Crossing.

They say enrollment will drop below 150 students, but school officials say they've had roughly 350 students daily, even since many families from that community moved in the fall.

There are two more meetings:

Monday, Feb. 10, 6-7:30 p.m.
Butler High School
-focus on Sego/Butler Consolidation

Tuesday, Feb. 11, 6:30-8 p.m.
Garrett Elementary School
-focus on National Hills/Garrett Consolidation

Roberson's final recommendations will come March 11.

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