By Monroe Roark
Citizens wanting to speak out
regarding the future of Smith-Barnes Elementary School will have two
chances this week to speak directly to the Henry County Board of
Education on the matter.
Public hearings have been set
to coincide with the board’s work session tonight at the central
office in McDonough and the regular meeting Monday, which will
actually be at Smith-Barnes to make it more convenient for the
The possible closing of the
school has generated a fair amount of controversy since it was
brought up in October, and dozens of people have spoken out against
the idea at school board meetings during that time.
Right now Smith-Barnes serves
grades 4-5 and nearby Stockbridge Elementary houses students in
kindergarten through third grade. They are the only elementary
schools in the county not under the typical K-5 model.
Under the plan conceived by
school system officials, both schools would be consolidated on the
Stockbridge Elementary campus, with some students transferred to
Cotton Indian Elementary to avoid overcrowding. Cotton Indian can
house more students than are currently enrolled there.
There has been some
discussion regarding what would happen to the Smith-Barnes campus
under this plan. The most talked-about idea involves making it the
new campus of Patrick Henry Academy, whose current home is the old
Stockbridge High School facility on South Lee Street – easily the
oldest facility in the entire school system, according to a
The plan was to be considered
for a vote in December after an initial 60-day review period, but
the board decided to convene the two public hearings and consider
the matter further.
When board member Mike
Griffin suggested last month that one of the hearings be in the
vicinity of the affected school to allow more interested residents
to attend, board member Erik Charles moved to make Smith-Barnes the
regular January board meeting location. That recommendation was
Today’s hearing is at 4 p.m.
in the school system’s administrative offices, 33 N. Zack Hinton
Pkwy. in McDonough. The Monday meeting begins at 7 p.m.
Smith-Barnes Elementary School is at 147 Tye
Street in Stockbridge.