Linton Ingraham and other school name honorees

Many, many Georgia schools have been named for geography. The announcement that the soon-to-open Denmark High in Forsyth County was to be named for a person was a bit of a surprise. Few persons see their names on high school buildings here.

In the days of segregation, many schools were named for geography: Gray High, Tift County Industrial, Houston County Training, etc.

But there were many that weren’t, especially with new buildings opening in the 1950s.

George Washington Carver was a popular name for schools.

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The new schools Terrell County did not welcome

When the Minimum Foundation Program was ratified in 1951, most Georgia school systems were thrilled.

State-provided money to bring local schools to modern condition. Many systems immediately pursued the funds, eagerly conducting surveys to determine the needs and problems of their schools.

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How the Minimum Foundation Program transformed the state, Part IV

“A few years ago we had a dream that one day Brooks County would have the best school system in the state of Georgia. You boys and girls are witnessing an epoch-making event this morning.”

– Brooks County Schools Superintendent, Burney Humphreys, opening the new Brooks County High at an assembly in 1959.

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How the Minimum Foundation Program transformed the state, Part III

The Minimum Foundation Program is here for you.

Now how do you improve your schools?

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How the Minimum Foundation Program transformed the state, Part II

Georgia schools were in rough shape in the 1940s.

Schools were overcrowded, conditions were mostly bad and systems were broke.

The state’s educational performance was among the bottom in the United States and a movement was on the rise to create adequate education for citizens.

Starting in 1948, this push was referred to as the Minimum Foundation Program. It was seen as a new beginning.

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How the Minimum Foundation Program transformed the state, Part I

Note: This is the start of a series about the biggest change to ever hit Georgia public school education, the Minimum Foundation Program.

With most of the action happening in the 1950s, the Minimum Foundation Program completely reshaped school systems throughout the states, building new or adding to thousands of schools. It caused widespread consolidation of white high schools and eliminated more than 75 percent of black schools over a 10-year span, from 1949-50 to 1959-60.

How did it happen and why was it so huge?

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Hard times in Toombs

The immediate years before the Minimum Foundation Program’s introduction were pretty dire in Georgia, for both white and especially for black schools.

Few school systems had funds to keep up with growing school enrollments, which were combined with the rapidly deteriorating conditions of the buildings the students occupied. Statewide, the problem was so bad that The Atlanta Journal had a series of articles from around the state highlighting the conditions of some of the worst school buildings in the state.

Individual system reports show up now and again in their local newspapers and though most focus on white schools alone, what they reveal are interesting.

Toombs County described its woes in February 1950 in The Lyons Progress.

Ernest Taylor, one of the trustees for the Lyons district, described Lyons as a “fire hazard.”

“Parts are now rotting away,” he said. The student-teacher ratio was not terrible at 1/33, but the restroom ratio was considerably worse: Three restrooms and 16 commodes for 815 students.

Taylor also served Johnson Corner.

“We need everything in the book, including a lunch room, deep well and the building repaired,” he said.

Wells had gone dry at Center and Normantown.

It is not known if any relief came immediately for the more easily fixable issues, but Lyons was not expecting anything to be quickly accomplished for its overcrowding issues in 1951.

Sources: The Lyons Progress – Feb. 25, 1950, March 15, 1951.