Tuesday afternoon at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Jackson County School Board, the Board voted on a 5-0 vote to implement the proposed changes for Sneads Elementary and Grand Ridge School, effective July 1, 2018. Board Chairman Dr. Terry Nichols thanked the staff, the community and everyone involved in this decision. He said it had not been an easy one but felt like this was best for the future.
Effective July 1, Sneads Elementary will be PreK – 4 with Grand Ridge serving students in grades 5-8.
Roofing and flooring issues at the Grand Ridge School have forced the school board’s hands on this move. With some of the buildings aged at 84 years, the cost to demolish and rebuild or rent portables is more of a financial strain than the school board can bear at this time.
In an interview with Superintendent of Schools Larry Moore recently, Moore said, “It would be a reconfiguration. Currently Grand Ridge is a Pre-K through eighth grade school and Sneads is a Pre-K through fifth grade school. We currently need more space at Grand Ridge and we looked at different options. And of course, construction is very expensive and renting portables is very expensive. But then we looked at our enrollment numbers and we can by moving Grand Ridge to a fifth grade through eighth grade center and Sneads Elementary becoming a Pre-K through fourth grade center, we have plenty of space, according to the data that we have and the enrollment that we have currently, we can house the Pre-K through four at Sneads Elementary and grades five through eight at Grand Ridge and we will have enough space without building, without renting any additional portables and we will be in good shape.”
Moore said that with school choice being a legislated mandate, students can move outside of their zone. They can be out of county or within county.
Moore said, “The progression would be Pre-K through fourth would be Sneads Elementary School and then move to Grand Ridge for the fifth grade through eighth grades and then Sneads High School nine through twelve.”
Moore said as far as geographically there was six to seven miles between Grand Ridge School and Sneads Elementary. He said financially this was the best solution, “It would prevent us from having to rent portables or build additional space. We are utilizing the space we currently have and with the current enrollment it will work well. But more so from an educational standpoint, it would be very good.”
School board member Chris Johnson said after the meeting was held in Grand Ridge, he was certain he would have received feedback but he had not except for when he had brought it up. Johnson said he had even had some say that this move should have long been done.
School board member Charlotte Gardner reiterated much of what Johnson said in that she had expected calls, emails, or messages opposing the change, but had been very pleasantly surprised. School board member Stacey Goodson chimed in with the same sentiments.
The Board is hopeful of assistance from area churches and groups with moving the materials and personal education materials of teachers at the schools who will be affected by the change.