Marshall advocates protest 'fast' closing

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comMay 15, 2013 

More than 100 people filled the Marshall Middle School cafeteria Wednesday evening to hear about the potential closing of the school. Many had the same thought as Wanda V. Jenkins.

"This is too fast, too soon," Jenkins said. "I want to know that everything has been done to find an alternative to closing Marshall."

The Muscogee County School Board is scheduled to vote on the closing of Marshall and Edgewood Elementary on Monday.

"Marshall is a jewel of the community," Jenkins said. "This is a place where students feel comfortable and believe they can flourish."

She has no children at Marshall but attended the school from 1981-1983, when it was Marshall Junior High.

"I attended Baker High, and they shut that down," she said. "I don't have a high school to go back to, and if they shut Marshall, I won't have a junior high to come back too, either."

Several people said that no school closings should be done until a new superintendent is hired. Interim superintendent John Phillips is recommending the school closings as a way for the district to make budget.

Melvin Blackwell, the district's student services chief, told those gathered that sometimes difficult decisions need to be made.

"Closing Marshall is one of those difficult decisions," Blackwell said.

Blackwell said that the low number of students attending Marshall is a reason for the potential closing. Marshall has the lowest attendance among the district's 12 middle schools.

"We need to look at what a school is doing and not how many attend," parent Carlas Carter said, praising the school's academic achievements.

Carter has a child on the school's debate team and members of the team got up to speak.

The debate team said the school should not be closed because it has "something to offer" and they would hate to lose the teachers and a principal with whom they have become so close.

One suggested the school district make Marshall a magnet school like Richards to get more students to attend.

Chantelle Roberts, a supporter of Marshall, was upset that the school district would close a middle school in the south part of town at the same time a new one, Aaron Cohn Middle School, is being built in the north.

She said Marshall has great teachers and a great legacy.

Students at Marshall are known as the Mustangs, and Roberts said those students will find it difficult to go to another school such as Rothschild.

"You can't take the heart of a mustang and turn it into that of a Rothschild eagle," she said.

Roberts then led the group is shouting "Mustangs, Mustangs, Mustangs."

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