The Hall County School Board is once again in the news.  Read about it here and here.  Last night there was a heated debate over the closing of  Jones Middle School. 

Once again, Hall County schools are facing extreme reductions in funds due to mismanagement among our leaders.  The hope is that they can close the funding gap without reducing staff and with minimal cuts to salary.  This makes sense, but either the information reported in our local media is incorrect or this doesn’t pass the smell test.

First problem:  Accessnorthga.com is reporting that:

Chairman Richard Higgins said the Board is waiting to get revenue figures from the state and a look at the tax digest; the school is not closed yet but the Board needs to cut spending by 7 to 8-million and closing Jones would save $1.1-million.

So closing Jones will save you 1.1 million of the 7 to 8 million you need to cut.  In other words, this is a symbolic cut.  When you are looking at cutting 7 to 8 million dollars, making a drastic decision that will only cut your deficit by 1 million is not a smart business decision.  In fact, there are many non-drastic ways to reduce 1 million dollars. 

The second report that just doesn’t digest well is this from the Gainesville Times:

No decision has been made yet, but, according to Schofield, if Jones is closed the school wouldn’t be sold or “turned into a warehouse.” 

“The economy will turn around,” Schofield said. “And when enrollment numbers pick up, Jones will house Hall County students again.”

 My sources report that the reason Jones was considered had more to do with facility upkeep than enrollment.  Supposedly, the school was in such disrepair that it would cost more to maintain than the other elementary schools in the system.  If none of the teachers will be displaced, and the building will still be used how can this possibly save money.  A building sitting empty with no maintenance will continue to deteriorate and cost more money in the future if you do decide to reopen.  IMHO, Schofield already has plans for Jones Elementary School.  This is similar to the ruse used at South Hall Middle School.  Residents were told that South Hall students would be housed at Davis Middle School to make needed repairs to the South Hall campus.  Immediately after that move, Schofield announced the opening of the Da Vinci Magnet school, and where would that school be housed.  You guessed it:  South Hall campus. 

Unlike most, this blog has not been overly critical of Schofield or the board.  We know what Chad Cobb knows:

“…if the budget problems can’t be fixed on a local level, maybe they can be fixed at the state (level).”

The majority of this problem lies with our elected legislators, but Mr. Schofield please don’t throw gasoline on a burning house just vote different.

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