Gretna Residents Oppose District Consolidation Proposal

Gretna Meeting on Gadsden School Reconfiguration
Gretna Meeting on Gadsden School Reconfiguration
Posted at 11:00 PM, Feb 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-14 12:27:10-05

GRETNA, FL (WTXL) -- More than 200 people packed Gretna Elementary School to voice concerns about its potential closure at the end of the school year.

It's part of a proposal the Gadsden County School Board is presenting at seven community meetings about the district's plans to consolidate.

With the future of Gretna Elementary at risk, the community showed up to send a clear message.

"We can't let someone come in and want to just close this place down and not put up a fight," said Gretna city commissioner Anthony Baker, who studied at Gretna Elementary.

"When you make change of this magnitude, it takes some time for you to see the results of it," said superintendent Roger Milton, "but, hopefully, in time, the residents and citizens - if this decision goes through - will see it was very well worth the effort."

Students, parents, teachers and graduates urged the school board to reconsider the current proposal to close the school at the end of the year.

"Our students are leaving for a reason," one resident said. "You can close every school in this county, and it wouldn't change the dynamics."

"Let's not just make this a one-man-show," added another resident. "In other words, let us all be involved in the decision-making process."

"We don't want you to go anywhere," said school board member Charlie Frost, who represents Gretna. "We want your support. I want to let everybody know there's nothing been done yet."

"This school is a pillar of our community," Baker said. "If it closes, we lose our identity."

More than a dozen residents, including local pastors and city commissioners, publicly addressed the board in clear opposition to the proposal. While some said they understand the reasons to consolidate, they warned against closing this community school.

"There was a lot to lose tonight, and if we just sit down on our morals, then we're going to lose -- and we're going to lose big," Baker said.

The next community meeting is set for Thursday at 6 p.m. in Quincy at St. John Elementary School -- another school proposed to close at the end of this school year.

Here's the full schedule of community meetings about consolidation:

Thursday, February 16 - St. John Elementary School

Monday, February 20 - Chattahoochee Elementary School

Monday, February 27 - West Gadsden High School

Thursday, March 2 - James A. Shanks Middle School

Monday, March 6 - East Gadsden High School

Wednesday, March 8 - Stewart Street Elementary School

Monday, March 13 - School Board Workshop

To view the superintendent's proposal for reconfiguration, click HERE.