Breaking up was hard to do in Camden (Part III)

A consolidated Camden County High had formed in Woodbine in 1945. A year later, the experiment was over.

Thanks to an increased presence on the Camden board of education by members from Kingsland and St. Marys and some unsigned board minutes and an unlikely quorum, Camden was split. Kingsland and St. Marys split off into their own consolidated high school, South Camden, while Woodbine retained the Camden County name.

And then everyone lived peacefully … for 2.5 years.

Continue reading “Breaking up was hard to do in Camden (Part III)”

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Breaking up was hard to do in Camden (Part II)

In September 1945, the three high schools of Camden County – North Camden, St. Marys and Kingsland – came together as a single high school.

The idea of one high school sounded good to school officials because all three had been plagued with small attendance and in the case of St. Marys, no real building because of a 1943 fire. Better course offerings were seen at Camden County High, which was located at Woodbine in a building that had been housing elementary students.

Almost immediately, St. Marys and Kingsland began to believe they had made a terrible mistake.

Continue reading “Breaking up was hard to do in Camden (Part II)”

Breaking up was hard to do in Camden (Part I)

This will be a tale in multiple parts.

The point of school consolidations is to bring schools together. To combine resources, perhaps to lose an outmoded building with a declining student population.

Consolidations usually take.

Lowndes County High opened in 1959, joining together Clyattville, Lake Park, Naylor and part of Pine Grove. In 1966, it consolidated further with the addition of Hahira. Lowndes has flirted with a new high school, but has held fast for more than 50 years.

North Habersham and South Habersham combined in 1970. They are seemingly contently wedded to one another.

Not all consolidations take. Duluth and Norcross were joined for a single school year, 1957-58 as West Gwinnett, before Duluth demanded to be set free. Greene-Taliaferro, Mitchell-Baker and Tri-County all joined and split.

Those decisions are generally final. Authorities involved realized that one situation or the other was best for their student populations.

But in one county school system, that wasn’t it. They were together, then they were not. Then they were together again.

This is Camden County.

Camden is the only known county school system in Georgia to have consolidated, broken up, then consolidated again.

Continue reading “Breaking up was hard to do in Camden (Part I)”

Some stats on the decline of one-teacher schools

 

 

One of the most iconic images of historic American education is that of the country schoolhouse. A one-room fixture, it represented education and it represented communities.

One-room schools are rare these days. Florida closed its last one, Duette Elementary, in 2016. Minnesota still has one, Angle Inlet, located in a section of the state only accessible by roads in Canada.

Georgia, generally being easily accessible and communities located close enough to towns of some size, began weeding theirs out as soon as possible. By 1960, they were all but extinct.

Continue reading “Some stats on the decline of one-teacher schools”

Brewton school saga, Part III: Albatross

Dr. B.D. Perry school opened in 1958 in Laurens County, six years after Laurens County’s school building program began. It opened two years after black students in eastern Laurens County were denied use of Brewton School.

Brewton School had been a white school building, but Laurens officials with state approval planned on remodeling it and enlarging it for use by black students. Brewton’s white students were going to be abandoning the building for the new East Laurens High, an all-grades building that opened in April 1956.

Despite Brewton’s updates being 90 percent complete, builders were forced to stop. Part of one wing was being built on private property. Local Brewtonians, who admitted they did not want black students in that school, now had their wish.

Continue reading “Brewton school saga, Part III: Albatross”

Brewton school saga, Part II: Opposition

When East Laurens opened in April 1956, all school children from Brewton, plus all the high school students from Condor and Wilkes moved into the new building. Wilkes’ high school had combined with Brewton at the start of the 1955-56 school year, a consolidation known as Brewton-Wilkes High.

Laurens County was still in the middle of a building program and black schools were being erected at Dudley (Millville) and a few miles south of Dublin (Mary Fleming). With Brewton now vacated, work could also finish on the building there, which was being renovated and remodeled for a third all-grades black school.

The location of another white high school in the Rentz area had been debated some time, with one court case decided and its appeal hanging in the balance.

Rentz, however, was joined by a newer and bigger problem in Laurens County: Brewton.

Continue reading “Brewton school saga, Part II: Opposition”

Brewton School saga , Part I: Brewton and her school

The Minimum Foundation Program and the State School Building Authority are frequently referenced in this blog.

The combination of the two programs were among the biggest influences in education, along with, but not limited to, free textbooks, the Quality Basic Education Act and the train of technology in its various forms.

Georgia’s plans in the 1950s to streamline its education, to get the most bang for its bucks, changed the fabric of schools, especially at the high school level.

Whereas states like Texas are seemingly content to maintain tiny high schools – Dave Campbell’s Texas Football was able to rattle off 10 high schools in 2016 with enrollments of 35 or less playing high school football at some level¬† – Georgia frowned upon that. In 1953, Tift County’s Omega High lost its accreditation from the state because it had fewer than 60 students in its top four grades. Public high schools in Georgia have only gotten bigger since.

In the 1950s, schools consolidated at a rapid pace, into existing buildings that had enough room; into existing buildings with additions; or into completely new buildings because of a much larger student load and/or the inadequacy of the already existing buildings.

The Brewton School saga involved the third of these types of building projects. The State Board of Education and the Laurens County Board of Education decided to consolidate Brewton’s students into the new East Laurens school building.

But Brewton had a decent school building and no one wanted to see it go to waste. Officials planned on solving more consolidation with it, namely the consolidation of a section of Laurens County’s black students.

This plan went haywire.

Continue reading “Brewton School saga , Part I: Brewton and her school”