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School proposal discussed
Meeting to focus on future of Sanville school
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer
What is being billed as “a community meeting to save Sanville Elementary School” will be hosted by Blackberry Baptist Church at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Moseley Architects’ recent capital improvements study for Henry County Public Schools recommends building a new, consolidated school to replace John Redd Smith Elementary and Collinsville Primary.
To address other “short-term (over next five years)” priorities of trying to eliminate six modular units at Sanville Elementary and four modular units at Stanleytown Elementary, Moseley Architects recommended shifting the five special-needs classrooms now at Stanleytown Elementary to the proposed new Collinsville Primary/John Redd Smith Elementary School and shifting the approximately 300 students from Sanville Elementary to Carver, Campbell Court and Stanleytown elementary schools and closing Sanville Elementary.
Sanville Elementary was built in 1927, with additions/renovations in 1947, 1961 and 1996. The school’s roof was replaced in 2011.
The architect’s report said reasons for advantages of closing Sanville include It would vacate the 1927 building, the oldest in the school division. “Coupled with the new consolidated Collinsville/John Redd Smith, it would vacate 3 existing schools and reduce the total number of elementary schools from 10 to 8.”
It also would vacate 116,280 square feet of old buildings and replace that with 95,000 square feet of new buildings, for a reduction of 21,280 square feet, the report says.
School officials have said they believe having fewer schools would reduce operational costs.
Pastor Eric Kieselbach of Blackberry Baptist Church said, “We have invited the Henry County School Board, board of supervisors (Blackberry) representative Jim Adams, and everyone in the community to attend” the meeting Thursday night.
“It’s much more than reading, writing and arithmetic. This school is very supportive to families. We want to see this school remain in our community,” Kieselbach said.
He, Clifford Stone of the Blackberry District and/or PTA President Andrea Harbour expressed concerns that Sanville students who would be reassigned potentially would have longer commutes to school and potentially would be in larger classes, and that reassigned students might have less individual attention from teachers. Harbour said she fears students might fall behind.
“I wonder about bullying issues as well, when you put them in schools where they don’t know (other students),” Harbour said.
Harbour, Kieselbach and Stone said the school has been an important part of the community for more than 85 years.
“Without the school, it would be a real detriment to our community,” Stone said.
“Sanville is such a close-knit community,” Harbour said.
Harbour and Kieselbach mentioned a ball field and walking track built through the collaboration of the PTA and community, with the help of Harvest Foundation, and wondered what would become of that. Harbour said the project was completed in October 2013.
Harbour and Kieselbach expressed concerns about the possibility of staff reductions.
Harbor said, rather then closing Sanville, “The most logical thing I think to do is do some renovations.” For example, both she and Kieselbach said adding fencing might address security concerns about the school having modular units and that redrawing school boundary lines might address school attendance issues.
Stone said, “It doesn’t really make any sense ... (to) close the only school in the western part of the county.”
“I’m not supporting the architect’s viewpoint,” said Tom Auker, who was elected in November as the Blackberry District representative on the Henry County School Board. “I will represent Sanville.... It’s a community school. It’s part of the community.”
Auker said he believes the school should be renovated, brought up to date, and that the modular units should be eliminated. He said he is concerned about bus time if Sanville students were assigned to other schools — how long they would wait, how long they would be on the bus, where they would go.
Joe DeVault, chairman of the county school board and member at large, said the school board has not “gone into a long-term discussion about Sanville,” because the board is focused on trying to get financing for a new, consolidated school for the Collinsville District. “If we don’t get funding for a new project in the Collinsville area, that’s (Sanville) a moot issue,” he said.
Henry County Schools Superintendent Jared Cotton stated in an email: “It is important to emphasize the fact that the presentation from Moseley Architects was just a recommendation that was presented for consideration. The Henry County School Board has not made any decisions about whether or not to move forward with this recommendation. When and if the School Board and BOS (Board of Supervisors) decide they want to move forward with this recommendation, HCPS will schedule community meetings at that time.”
According to report given at last month’s school board meeting, it would cost about $6.5 million to construct new classroom additions to replace the 1927 original structure and discontinue use of mobile units at Sanville Elementary.
Blackberry Baptist Church is at 3241 Stones Dairy Road, Bassett.