Parents, Teachers Voice Opinions At School Board Meeting To Save Chauncey Elementary School

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More than 150 people showed up at an intense Athens City Schools board meeting last night to try to save Chauncey Elementary School.

Superintendent Carl Martin recommended back in December for the school to be closed in order to lessen the burden of a million dollar budget problem.

If the recommendation is approved, students from Chauncey will be transferred to The Plains Elementary School.

Many of the school's proponents praised the education they received at Chauncey and warned of possible over-crowding at The Plains school.

However, there were also some who said flooding issues at the building and low enrollment rates make the school the natural choice to cut.

Chauncey Elementary parent John Frost was one of the parents who raved about his experience at the school. "The loss of this school is going to be devastating to our student body and community," said Frost. "This is a close-knit community. These students can walk into the school building and the staff know them by name. The children's parents can walk into the building and the staff know them by their name. I know you can argue that it is because of low attendance, but I don't agree with that. They do that because they are dedicated. They care for those children."

West Elementary parent Corinne Colbert said keeping Chauncey open would be a mistake, because it would mean students at the other elementary schools would be disadvantaged due to other budget cuts that would have to be made. "I just want to say that this is a difficult decision. We feel as strongly about our school as you do about yours," said Colbert. "My youngest child is in his last year at West, he's going to be going on to the middle school and I don't want his experience or the experience of my elder child, who is going into high school next year, to be diminished or cut. Sometimes sacrifices have to made. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

Others in attendance said none of the school buildings should be closed and savings could be realized by making cuts elsewhere.

The final decision as to whether Chauncey Elementary will be closed is expected at the school board's January 26th  meeting.