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Putnam Co. BOE plans to close two schools, board member says more work needed

Eric Arena, the Superintendent of Putnam County School District, has recommended closing Putnam County Elementary School and Putnam County Middle School/Evan Watson (WGXA)

PUTNAM COUNTY, Ga. -- On Monday night, the second of two public hearings to close Putnam County Elementary School and Putnam County Middle School was held.

Eric Arena, the Superintendent of Putnam County School District, has recommended closing Putnam County Elementary School and Putnam County Middle School. If this were to take place, the current plan is that the Putnam County Primary School would teach grades K-3 and a new school would be built to teach grades 4-8.

School Board Chairman Steve Weiner presented reasons why the board believes building a new school would be advantageous. Weiner said that over the course of 20 years, there would be a net fund from completing the renovations that would cost the county and taxpayers more than moving forward with plans to build a new facility.

Additionally, the board said that a new school would also attract more state funding.

At Monday night's hearing, Weiner emphasized a need to move quickly with building a new school considering current interest rates and the conditions of the schools that need renovations. In May 2018, the board would introduce a referendum that would allow the public to vote on the proposal.

During the hearing, community members expressed concern over several issues with the board's plan, including that:

  • there are no specifics on a new millage rate that would fund the building of a new school,
  • there is no concrete plan regarding where the new facility would be built,
  • there are currently no proposed plans on how to deal with the old school buildings,
  • there is not a clear idea of the effect this decision will have on Eatonton, and
  • there is currently not enough information for citizens to be able to approve such a proposal.

Putnam County School Board member Rev. Simone Jones said, "Us as a whole, I think that it's just too premature. We're getting questions that we absolutely have no answer to. We cannot tell you what the millage rate is. We cannot tell you what maintenance and operation. We cannot tell you where it will be located."


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