Jesup neighbors fear school closing - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Jesup neighbors fear school closing

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JESUP, GA (WTOC) -

Dozens gathered Thursday at a church in Jesup to hear rumors they could lose the only school in Wayne County's District 4.

Martha Rawls Smith Elementary serves the primarily minority district. It's named for one of the community's early African American teachers. The building has been in use since the days of segregation.

District 4 school board member Linda Kelly advised the group the school district must submit a long-term facilities plan to the State of Georgia to qualify for construction funding. The plan, due in August, must outline which schools and buildings they intend to keep or replace.

Kelly said she has lobbied for a new school to be built on the current site. However, she stated, other board members have sited higher construction costs for safety concerns because the campus is land-locked by a railroad line and a five lane highway.

Others who spoke at the community meeting felt the school district was attempted to erase the history of Jesup's minority community, close the school and relocate students at other schools.

Board member Ferroll Cooksey told WTOC by phone the extra costs could be as high as $2 million to install buffers and other safety features. However, the board had not eliminated any options - from building on the current site to constructing a new Smith Elementary at a nearby location in the neighborhood.

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