Carnesville Elementary School in Carnesville, Georgia was scheduled to close, but thanks to Care2 activists who signed the petition, there will be another year of classes at the school. The Franklin County School Board voted on Monday, May 7, to take closing the school off the table.
School superintendent Dr. Ruth Odell said Tuesday, the decision came Monday to cancel the two scheduled public hearings and keep Carnesville Elementary School (CES) open another year after the board learned of a petition being circulated.
School Stays Open Thanks To Care2 Petition
That’s right: the Care2 petition, sponsored by Parents of CES and Franklin County, and signed by almost 300 activists, made all the difference!
The school board is struggling with how to make up a $3-million dollar shortfall in the fiscal 2013 budget and had earlier voted to consider closing the elementary school as one of the best cost-saving options.
“If we had gone ahead and had the hearings, then there’s a lot of legal things under the old law that come into play with closing a school,” Odell said. “I say the ‘old law’ because it’s been revised, but that revision doesn’t take effect until July 1st and the law will not have the same legal ramifications to a petition. But right now, we had to go by the rules we’re currently under.”
Odell said under the current state law, if the petition had been presented Monday night at their regular meeting, board members would have had to push their decision on whether to close Carnesville Elementary back by 60 days.
“Then at that point, the names on the petition would have to be submitted to the county elections superintendent who would have to verify that everyone who signed it was a registered voter. The number of registered voters would then have to equal 25% of the county’s registered voters.”
The Power Of Grassroots Activism
Once that was done, Dr. Odell said the law then requires the school board negotiate with a group representing the petitioners, and it could be months before the board would have been able to make a decision on closing the school.
That lengthy process is not feasible, Dr.Odell said, because decisions on what to cut in the budget must be done by Thursday – the deadline for personnel recommendations for the next school year. Additionally, the budget must be passed by the end of June.
However, Dr. Odell stressed Tuesday, this does not mean closing Carnesville Elementary will not come up again next year.
But let’s take one year at a time.
Congratulations to the sponsors of the petition for figuring out an excellent strategy to keep their school open, and thank you to all the Care2 activists who signed the petition!
Photo Credit: istock