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Manchester parents are concerned after a proposed school consolidation in Meriwether County

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MANCHESTER, Ga. - Concerns over a proposed school consolidation brought parents out to Manchester High School Thursday evening and budget cuts are at the forefront of the discussion.

School board members and the superintendent of Meriwether County have laid out a pretty bleak picture saying there really aren't many other options in order to have a balanced budget. But parents are speaking out, trying to keep students at the high school. Daphaney Dyer is one of those parents who don't want to see the doors to Manchester High School closed. She has 3 grandchildren who will be middle school aged soon and is concerned about transportation to and from school.

"9,10,11 year old children being on the bus with 14 and 15 year olds. It's just not something I can live with," said Dyer.

Superintendent Carol Lane said there are 3 options for consolidation in the district. Option 1 is to combine Greenville and Manchester High Schools into 1 school and combine the middle schools in each city into one school as well. The second option is to combine Manchester Middle and High School and Greenville Middle and High School. The third option is do to nothing, which Lane said would be extremely detrimental to the district.

Some parents are concerned a consolidation will cause more families to move away from Manchester and closer to the High School in Greenville.

"I am concerned for this city that a lot of residents would move to Warm Springs or even to Greenville or even to Luthersville just because of the commute for their kids going to school," said Jennifer Modlin.

But school board members say there are few options. Decline in student enrollment has left the district with less money to maintain facilities and staff. Board member Allen Parham, in an email, gave some numbers for the decline. He said, "We have lost 1,086 children since the 1994-1995 school year across Meriwether County. Manchester High School has lost 146 students since the 1994-1995 school year. Greenville High School has lost 341 students since the 1994-1995 school year. We have lost a total of 487 high school students since the 1994-1995 school year. We addressed consolidation in Meriwether County in the mid 1980's and decided to maintain community schools that began construction in the early 1990's. This was done on the assumption the county would grow economically, and that has clearly not happened, we have lost students. Driving this has been a tremendous amount of job loss in Meriwehter County. We have lost over 2,000 jobs in Manchester alone, not to mention the losses in Greenville and Woodbury." 

Superintendent Lane said they have cut several positions, eliminated programs, reduced field trips, and increased class sizes already. Vice chair of the school board, Robert Hawk, said there's about a 1 million dollar deficit in the budget. But for Dyer and other parents they say they'll do their best to keep this school open.

"We'll go down fighting. We'll definitely go down fighting," said Dyer.

The superintendent said a base size high school for funding purposes is about 970 students. Combined Greenville and Manchester High Schools have only around 877 students. She also said that even with these proposed consolidations taxes will have to increase.

Naomi Keitt

Naomi Keitt focuses on education reporting for WRBL News 3. More>>

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  • Web Poll

  • What would you like to see done in Meriwether County schools?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Option 1: Grade Level Combination: Combine middle schools together and high schools together.
    28%
    5 votes
    Option 2: Geographic Combinations: Combine Manchester Middle and High together while separately combining Greenville Middle and High together.
    39%
    7 votes
    Option 3: No change to schools; would likely lead to a property tax increase.
    33%
    6 votes
  • Meriwether County schools vote Friday night on whether or not to combine schools in order to save money.
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