On Wednesday, June 5, parents, grandparents, guardians and concerned citizens appeared at Jones Elementary School in an effort to mainly voice opposition to the Bibb Board of Education’s consolidation and reorganization proposal which mainly targets Macon’s predominately African-American neighborhood schools.
In April, former superintendent Susanne Griffin-Ziebart told WMAZ-TV that the Bibb County School District– a system in which three out of every four students are black– may have to downsize staff for next year due to budget issues.
In May, proposals to close and/or consolidate schools were put forward as recommendations.
Walter P. Jones Elementary School, located at 2350 Alandale Rd in East Macon, has been designated in a cost-cutting move in which some students would transfer to King-Danforth Elementary at 1301 Shurling Drive for the next school year, 2013-2014.
Those students designated to move would be in the third, fourth or fifth grades.
On a side note, Barden Elementary is targeted under a plan presented to the board in which this majority-black school would be closed down, and its students would be sent to Burghard.
Both Burghard (Village Green) and Barden sit in District 3 which are represented by Susan Sipe.
Sipe’s majority-minority, Democrat-leaning district and seat on the Bibb County School Board had been used as an obstacle to block Romain Dallemand’s Macon Miracle plan from being fully implemented along with the Promise Neighborhood Initiative, an Obama administration program designed to target poverty-stricken neighborhoods.
And it isn’t a coincidence that these schools are being targeted in an effort to balance the Bibb County School’s Board’s budget.
All elections have consequences — especially local school board elections and Sipe is using her position to propose and support policies that adversely impact minority neighborhood schools despite parents’ objections.
The two schools–Jones and King-Danforth are a few minutes apart if one is driving a car. However, what about those students who can’t get to school by car and are accustomed to walking a relatively short distance coming from and/or going to school?
Shurling Drive is one of the busiest streets in Macon and this disruptive move would add to the cost of transportation.
The Macon Telegraph reported the following:
…”Interim Superintendent Steve Smith, who officially started work this week, said he wanted to go back and evaluate whether transportation costs could eat into the savings. The schools are physically close, but are separated by busy Shurling Drive and some smaller streets…”
In addition to trying to balance next year’s school budget on the backs on minority school children, these proposals to consolidate does put the safety of school children more at risk moving forward if this consolidation plan is approved.
What if a child misses a school bus and is forced to walk a longer distance to school and has to cross Shurling Drive?
Chester Brown, the PTA president for Jones told the Telegraph:
“Everybody looks out for everybody. I’ve lived in this community 29 years. A lot of people move into this neighborhood because the school is walking distance and there’s a real sense of community,” said Brown.
The Bibb County School Board has scheduled a 6:30 p.m. public hearing on Monday, June 10 at King-Danforth Elementary.