Athens AISD residents will now be given the choice to decide if a new elementary school will be built in Athens.

With a 4-3 vote, the Athens Independent School District Board of Trustees voted to pass a facilities plan that calls for a new campus to be built in North Athens. The new school would be one of three schools that would be for kindergarten through third grade students. The proposition was narrowly passed, giving the board the ability to write up a bond issue for voters to decide.

The proposition will create a new kindergarten through third grade school where R.C. Fisher currently is. It would also make South Athens Elementary a pre-kindergarten through third grade campus. Bel Air would become kindergarten through third grade and Athens Intermediate would be fourth and fifth grades.

Athens Middle School would be sixth through eighth grades and the high school would stay at the same, grades, 9-12.

When superintendent Dr. Fred Hayes gave his recommendation for Proposition 4, he pointed out that one of the positive points of the plan was that there would be less transfer for students from one school to another.

“The plan I recommend to you tonight is a positive step forward,” he said. “This proposition will limit the number of transitions a child goes through. In my experience as an educator I’ve had an issue with transfers.

“In Athens we compound this problem by asking our students to transfer five times, starting with kindergarten.”

The proposed plan would limit the number of transitions to three.

Reconfiguration was also discussed at the meeting. The policy was up for review and was not voted on. Reconfiguration would set attendance zones, specifying which elementary school a student would attend.

Board member Robert Risko said he was disappointed with the plan.

“I ran for school board two years ago to serve children who couldn’t speak for themselves,” said Risko. “I have a number of questions that, if they are answered appropriately, will shed light on exactly why this policy isn’t good.”

Risko’s questions ranged from how the zones would be broken up, to how the district would ensure that all children would be able to receive the same educational experience.

“Will the campuses have the same programs?” asked Risko

Hayes said that one of the challenges with reconfiguration is having an efficient use of the personnel.

Risko also asked if the money raised by parent organizations at each campus would be shared among all of the kindergarten to third grade campuses.

“Traditionally the money raised on a campus would stay with that campus,” said Hayes. “I believe the best option for our district is reconfiguration.”

Hayes said that the earliest reconfiguration would be utilized would be in 2010.

Recommended for you