Forum held to discuss future of George P. Austin Junior High
The Linden Board of Education held a public forum Monday night concerning the future of George P. Austin Junior High School.
The chairman of the board, William Curry, opened the forum to explain the situation.
“We are strapped for money,” Curry said. “Two of our schools are able to receive federal funds, but George P. Austin is not because of the number of students at the school. It’s not financially sound to operate.”
He continued by saying that if the board decides to close the school, it would save money that could be used to make repairs and renovations to Linden Elementary School and Linden High School.
“Right now, it looks like the right thing to do,” Curry said. “I knew George Perry Austin personally, and he would have made the best choice for the school system and the children.”
Superintendent George Baldwin followed Curry in addressing those in attendance.
“Our intent is not to close school buildings,” Baldwin said. “Our goal is to thrive and survive. We can survive with George P. Austin open, but can we thrive? We want to provide a positive learning environment for our children.”
He added that if George P. Austin Junior High closed, it would save the system around $100,000 per year.
“A small school system like ours depends heavily on federal funds,” he said, “and without those funds, we can’t properly staff George P. Austin. All I want to do is what is right for our schools.”
Baldwin also said that the plan, if the school is closed, is to have the teachers move with the students to the elementary and high school, so there will not be as many jobs cut.
The decision on whether or not to close the school will be made at a later date at a regular board of education meeting.
In a called board meeting preceding the forum, the board approved the Information Technology Systems’ (ITS) low bid of $42,240 per year for three years for a basic maintenance contract.