Quincy Residents Oppose Closing St. John Elementary School

St. John Elementary School
Posted at 11:00 PM, Feb 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-17 07:43:24-05

QUINCY, FL (WTXL) -- It was another large turnout Thursday night for the second of seven community meetings in Gadsden County about the district's proposal to consolidate.

St. John Elementary School is one of two schools the superintendent has suggested closing at the end of this school year.

"Leave them here where they belong," said resident Queen Thomas. "They've done a great job. If it ain't broke, why fix it? Leave it alone."

"You put us on the back end," said Quincy mayor Derrick Elias. "You put us on the back end, and we should've been on the front end.

"Safety-wise, discipline-wise, it's not good to put those young kids with the middle school kids," said resident Jimmy Collins.

Board member Charlie Frost represents this district. He's made it clear he'll vote against closing Gretna and St. John.

"The only people that I have run across that have said this was a good idea are people that don't have any kids out here -- and they don't live here," Frost said. "The people in Midway and Havana, I don't think too many of them are here tonight, because it don't affect them."

Most speakers addressed concerns with transportation, student safety and community pride, but a few said they're open to change, given limited funding and dropping enrollment.

"We still operate using the same number of schools -- and a lot of schools are operating with subs. So, we really need to make some changes," said resident Sandra Joseph.

"This is an awesome responsibility, and I can tell you it's not an easy decision," said Gadsden County School Board member Steve Scott. "No one is going to be happy about it, no matter what the decision is."

While the communities of Gretna and St. John are in clear opposition to their schools closing, board chair Isaac Simmons offered an interesting alternative: build a brand new school in between those two schools.

The crowd seemed very supportive of that option. Simmons said he'll bring that up with the board.

The next community meeting will be held Monday, February 20 at 6 p.m. at Chattahoochee Elementary School.