Parents speak out against merging Josey High and Murphey Middle School

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News 12 at 11 / Monday, February 3, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The room was packed and the opinions were loud as parents spoke up about the future of Richmond County schools.

Monday night's meeting was all about merging Josey High School and Murphey Middle. It lasted nearly two hours, and parents did most of the talking.

The meeting was meant as a platform to give parents a chance to tell the board what they think about the recommendation to merge the two, and parents didn't hold back.

Tensions were high and seats were full at the first town hall meeting of the year.

"These are children," one parent emphasized.

"Just the thought of her coming here, I've been sick ever since I heard it," expressed another mother.

After a brief recap from the consultants, Dr. Frank Roberson gave the floor to the parents.

"We want to hear what you've got to say," he told the room.

Monday night, their message about merging Josey High School and Murphey Middle was clear.

"We don't want this," one mother said plainly.

"This is the worst, worst thing you could think of, putting 6th graders with 12th graders, and I hope everybody declines that," one dad said to a round of applause.

The biggest theme of the night was that 6th graders just aren't ready, developmentally or emotionally, to be in the same school as 12th graders.

"The children coming from Murphey will be 11 and 12 years old, and they're coming to Josey? That's too big of an age gap," mother Shirley Hannah said.

"10-year-olds still go to Chuck-E-Cheese," mother Monique Braswell emphasized to the room.

Parents say with older kids, come more mature issues.

"My daughter says "Mom, I am not ready to face that peer pressure,'" another mother told the room.

"It's a dangerous and volatile situation where we may end up with more Planned Parenthood issues. Pregnancies," stated one mother.

They're issues Dr. Roberson says the board will consider before they hear a new recommendation March 11th.

"Those are legitimate concerns," Roberson told News 12. "I hope to have all these concerns included in that recommendation."

He also says the students won't mingle in the hallways because the middle schoolers would have a building of their own built on the Josey campus.

Monday is just the first of four meetings where parents have a chance to speak out.

Here are the next three:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 6-7:30 p.m. Craig-Houghton Elementary School/
- focus on Collins Elementary Closure

Monday, February 10, 2014 6-7:30 p.m. Butler High School
-focus on Sego/Butler Consolidation

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 6:30-8 p.m. Garrett Elementary School
- focus on National Hills/Garrett Consolidation