“The superintendent recommended a withdrawal of the proposal to rezone Smith-Barnes and Stockbridge elementary schools at this afternoon’s meeting,” schools spokesman J.D. Hardin said Feb. 5. “This means that Smith-Barnes will remain open in its current state as a school serving fourth- and fifth-grade students.”
It had been considered as the new home of alternative high school Patrick Henry Academy, a move that could have saved the school district $400,000.
Hardin said Gov. Nathan Deal’s plans to increase spending on education in Georgia, combined with public comment, led to the decision.
“This recommendation to withdraw the proposal comes after recent budgeting projections from the state and input from school community members,” Hardin said.
He said supporters of Smith-Barnes Elementary at the meeting were “pleased” with the action taken.
They included District 10 State Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur, who issued a statement the day before the school board meeting.
“For over 60 years, Smith-Barnes Elementary has stood as a reminder of the struggle and triumph of African-Americans in this great state. At a time when the majority of black Georgians worked as sharecroppers and household staff, their children were receiving an outstanding education comparable to those white children in neighboring schools,” he said. “They were being educated to grow and prosper and make a better life for themselves; something that was unimaginable only a generation before them.
“Over the years, this school has come to embody the multicultural makeup of our great state and country with various races, religions, and backgrounds represented. This school is part of the community and this community is part of the school.”
Jones said the potential savings were not worth displacing the students.
“Are there other areas of cost savings that have been ignored?” he said.