Muscogee County School Board postpones meeting to discuss potential closing of Edgewood Elementary School

mrice@ledger-enquirer.comApril 29, 2013 

The Muscogee County School District’s administration has postponed its 5 p.m. Wednesday presentation to the school board, when it was scheduled to propose closing Edgewood Elementary School and repurpose or declare as surplus other facilities.

The postponement is due to a death in the family of interim superintendent John Phillips, MCSD communications director Valerie Fuller said in an email Monday.

No school officials were available for comment Monday as district offices and schools were closed for a furlough day.

The meeting has not been rescheduled yet, but the board will use that time to go into closed session and continue its search for a full-time superintendent.

The board interviewed an undisclosed candidate Sunday in closed session at the Atlanta office of Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough, the law firm of the board’s search consultant, Glenn Brock. Board vice chairwoman Pat Hugley Green of District 1, who presided in the absence of board chairman Rob Varner of District 5, said Sunday that board members would use Wednesday’s closed session to assess the interview and determine the next step.

State law requires the board to announce up to three finalists 14 days before voting to hire a superintendent. As board members look for the district’s next leader, MCSD officials also looking for more ways to save money.

The Georgia Legislature’s budget cuts amount to a $23 million hit on the school district’s budget of about $350 million for next school year and more than $144 million since 2003, according to the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute.

MCSD officials have declined to comment and haven’t released any documents pertaining to the pending proposal to close Edgewood, but some numbers available indicate why it is a target: The current building on Forrest Road is 59 years old and only 71-percent full (328 students, 463 capacity).

Opponents of closing Edgewood cite other statistics: Despite being a Title I school — meaning it serves students from predominantly low-income families — Edgewood has met the state standards, called Adequate Yearly Progress, 10 straight years, including in all seven of the criteria for the most recent report card, 2010-11.

The Georgia Department of Education rates Edgewood as a Distinguished School for its performance. The percentage of Edgewood students meeting or exceeding standards was 76.46. That’s a gain of 1.46 percent, which was equal to or above gains made by 79 percent of the state’s elementary schools.

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