Parents fight proposal to close historic Henry Co. school

by: Carl Willis Updated:

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HENRY COUNTY, Ga. - Hundreds of parents and students filed into Smith Barnes Elementary School Monday night to fight a proposal that would close the school.

Parents are angry and believe they were left out of the decision-making process.

Henry County School System leaders have proposed merging the students with another school and using the Smith Barnes facilities as a secondary school.

State leaders said the school was built in the '50s during segregation, and is a part of the community's history.

"Schools should be teaching history, not destroying history," said state Sen. Emanuel Jones, Dist. 10.

Former Smith Barnes student Rashaud Stockdale said the school was a second home for him.

"Whenever you come in you feel welcomed and it feels safe, and whenever you see people in the hallway, they're always happy," said Stockdale.

School board members said Smith Barnes Elementary is the only school in the system that is not a traditional K-5.

They said the proposal is about using resources more efficiently, since the school serves fourth- and fifth-graders only.

"We are not going to sit idly by while they make decisions without public input on closing this school of excellence," said Jones.

The school board chair told Channel 2's Carl Willis parents were not left out of the process.

She said public hearings like the one Monday night are part of the process.

"We've not had a vote yet," said School Board Chair Pam Nutt. "Nothing has been determined. It's not set in stone. We won't make that determination until next month."

City council members said they would pass a resolution urging that Smith Barnes to continue operating as is.

"Do what the people asked you to do since they put you in office," said Stockbridge City Council member Anthony Ford. "They don't want the school closed. It doesn't need to be closed."

The final recommendation will be made in February.



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