Parents get first glimpse at possible school closures in Fayette County

by: Tony Thomas Updated:

Hundreds of parents turned out Thursday night to hear details of potential school closings in Fayette County.

FAYETTE COUNTY, Ga. - Hundreds of parents turned out Thursday night to hear details of potential school closings in Fayette County.

District leaders said they need to cut up to $20 million from next year's budget. Many parents though are concerned.

"I don't like it because the classes are going to be a lot bigger than they are now, and that's not good," parent Irma Harris told Channel 2's Tony Thomas after the meeting.

So many families were moving to the south suburban county just a few years ago that the district went on a land-buying and school-building binge, expecting thousands of new students to pour into the area.

Then the recession hit and the families did not come.

"We overbuilt, we have more schools than we need for the students we have," said Superintendent Jeff Bearden.

Bearden said Fayette County has thousands of empty desks in its 28 schools. Enrollment has dropped by 2,000 in the last four years.
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The district is considering two plans. The superintendent wants to close Fayette Middle School, Fayette Intermediate School and Hood Avenue Elementary.

A second plan being debated would also close schools in Brooks and Tyrone. Bearden estimates the district could save $800,000 for each school closure.

Parents listened to the administration talk about the financial picture, had a chance to ask questions in smaller groups.

"It's a part that will affect all of us, if not for property values it will be for the next generation," parent Michael Farinacci said.

The plans will go to a redistricting committee and then onto the School Board for a final decision.

Bearden hopes to have everything settled by the end of the year.