Town Hall Meeting Addresses Education

It's been big news over the last few years: the state of schools in Savannah. Last night, people from around the school district gathered to hash out problems, and offer some solutions. Several hundred people showed up to the town hall meeting called by Savannah mayor Otis Johnson.

A lot of people are angry about things like disparities between schools and not enough help for students who need it most.

A couple dozen elected officials from the school district up to the state level showed up at the Savannah Civic Center to hear what people had to say, with Mayor Johnson getting his shots in first.

"Beach and Savannah High compete every year not to be the lowest-performing school in the district," he said. "I'm sick of it."

A lot of people in the audience agreed, saying there's no reason every school shouldn't be on an even plane. Some students don't like the fact that every school's got a different curriculum.

"The only way everyone is going get on the same playing field, either magnet or non-magnet, is if everyone uses the same thing," said William Jackson, a senior at Groves High.

"Every year at our school, our football team, our basketball team get new jerseys," said one student. "Yet we still can't afford to get new books."

Many people say the district needs to make sure the teachers know what they're doing in order to give students the best chances for success.

"I have spoken with superintendents in the past trying to make sure people teaching A, B, or C is certified in A, B, or C," said Janie Fowles of the board of education.

Not every comment was along the lines of academics. A lot of people say the district's got to do a better job of handling problems outside the classroom that find their way into the hallways.

"When you have one social worker responsible for eight schools, how effective can that one be?" said concerned parent Frank McCraw.

Mayor Johnson addressed some criticism that he's dealing with issues that aren't under city hall's jurisdiction, by saying that education is a quality-of-life issue that has ramifications on all sorts of other aspects, and the community needs to be involved.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com