Local News

5/15/2013

Board says no to annex

By SARAH LUNDGREN The Brunswick News

The big topic of discussion at Tuesday's Glynn County School Board meeting again turned to the fate of the Adult Literacy Center and GED Program.

The center's current location at the Perry Building on Stonewall Street is set to be demolished in June, and representatives from the center have sought the school system's help in finding another facility.

In recent months, the center's staff and students have made a request for one wing, featuring five classrooms, at the Risley Annex - formerly the Risley Early College Academy - on Albany Street. During an April board meeting, school superintendent Howard Mann voiced opposition to that plan and offered the empty Risley Learning Center, also on Albany Street, to the group.

Students and staff of the program, including its lead teacher, Shawn Williams, implored the board a second time Tuesday to give it space at the Risley Annex. Some cited concerns with the Risley Learning Center's condition, adding that it would cost the school board money to fix it up when space at the Risley Annex is move-in ready.

Board members Ingrid Metz and John Madala sided with the group, saying they felt the program should be given the opportunity to operate out of the Risley Annex.

"I'm disappointed by the way the administration has handled this, as many of these (students) are adults who we, as a system, have failed," Metz said. "The annex is a school. Taxpayers are undoubtedly confused that it's not being used as one. I will be ashamed if we don't make the right decision to support the citizens and taxpayers of Glynn County."

Madala, a former student of the GED program, agreed with Metz.

The other board members rejected that plan.

Board member Venus Holmes said the condition of the Risley Learning Center, which she toured with fellow board member Millard Allen and facilities director Al Boudreau, looked OK to her.

"There's no rats, no rat holes anywhere, and I was genuinely surprised by what shape it was in from what I've heard," Holmes said. "All it needed was some carpet cleaning, some painting... it looked like a nice place.

"Whatever the board wants to do, I'll stand by it, but the truth is the building is in much better shape than people have said."

Boudreau said the learning center, which the school system is obliged to keep up, would be easier to maintain if it were inhabited.

Voting with Allen and Holmes were board members Michael Hulsey, Hank Yeargan and Jerry Mancil.

* Reporter Sarah Lundgren writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at slundgren@thebrunswicknews.com.