County closes Edward BellPublished 9:30pm Monday, March 7, 2011
Edward Bell School will be forced to close its doors at the end of the school year.
The Tallapoosa County School Board voted 3-1 in favor of closing the school after this year in order to save the school system approximately $400,000.
The decision comes shortly after an announcement by Gov. Robert Bentley of 3 percent proration to school budgets and with a nearly $2 million shortfall for the school system looming in September due to a loss of stimulus funds.
“We’re really trying to save jobs,” Superintendent Philip Baker said. “We love our schools in this county and when you talk about a closure of a school it’s very difficult for a community.”
Board members Randy Anderson, Martin Johnson and Cindy Railey voted to close the school while Matilda Woodyard-Hamilton, who represents Camp Hill on the school board, voted against the move.
“I think teachers, students and employees have been disrespected that no one of authority has been to Edward Bell,” Woodyard-Hamilton said.
Baker said he plans to visit with folks at Edward Bell Tuesday. He added that citizens of Camp Hill were given an opportunity to speak at a public hearing in reference to the school closure last year.
Ronald E. Jackson, executive director of Citizens for Better Schools and Sustainable Communities was given an opportunity to speak and once again declined saying that he would not dignify the process, which he saw as illegal.
He then walked out of the meeting held upstairs in a courtroom of the Tallapoosa County Courthouse and instead spoke to a group on the courthouse steps.
“We’ve just started the second battle of Horseshoe Bend,” Jackson said to the crowd gathered outside.
Jackson said he plans to challenge the legality of the decision in court, saying subsequent meetings in reference to the decision were held illegally.
“We are going to test the justice system,” he told the crowd. “We have to go through the courts and we have faith in our court system.”
Jackson later led the group in singing “We Shall Overcome,” before asking volunteers to help organize a “massive demonstration” to be held later this month.
Baker said students living in Camp Hill will mostly be transported to schools in Dadeville, although some would attend Reeltown School.
Baker reiterated after the meeting that closing the school was only a piece of the financial puzzle facing the school system. He said other actions would have to be taken, but those actions would have to wait until the amount of proration for 2012 is announced.