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Hearings set for Smith-Barnes plan


By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent 

  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 public.

  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 spokesperson.

  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 approved unanimously.

  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.



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