Controversial School Merger Proposed

Marshpoint and Islands Elementary Schools are located right next to each other. Now the Savannah-Chatham School Board's talking about merging the two. But some parents don't like the idea. WTOC spent some time at a very heated school board meeting today where we learned that, with one school being a magnet school and the other being a regular public school, many parents feel if the two merge, the students will suffer.

"You have one side of the parking lot who is specially trained, who is certified, gifted certified and on the other side of the parking lot who is not," said Marshpoint parent Janice Perry.

Islands was built first, but with an expanding student body at nearby May Howard, another school was needed, and that's why Marshpoint was built. If you're wondering, it's next door to Islands because the school board already owned the land. One of the biggest concerns parents at Marshpoint have is the quality of teachers that will be around if the two schools do merge.

Right now, as it stands, Marshpoint is a magnet school, Islands is not. Now that the idea has been put into motion, many parent fear their children's education is at risk. "Marshpoint has worked hard," Marshpoint parent Terri Woods. "The teachers have worked hard to get their accreditation and improve their education and they've gone back to school, all the other schools need to do that too."

But some Islands parents are also skeptical and say their children deserve the same education. "It doesn't seem like all the kids' interest are at heart, because every child deserves the same type of education system-wide," said Islands parent Charlene Smith.

Skeptical or not, both sides feel the merger can work, but only if the right plan is put into place. "We will be presenting the board with some plans as a staff as the committees finish their work and it's really up to the board, it's a board decision whether or not this proceeds," said Hilda Ortiz, the board's chief academic officer.

There will be another public meeting to discuss the merger. It will be held Wednesday, June 9, at 7pm at Coastal Middle School.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen,