The Lee County School Board has voted to close three elementary schools. They are Stickleyville, Ewing, and Keokee Elementary Schools.
The decision was made despite protests from parents.
It was standing room only for a public hearing in Lee County Tuesday evening. Many people were forced to stay in the hallway.
Carrie Marsee, a parent of a student at Keokee Elementary School said, "I don't think they should be bigger, they are big enough now. If their class sizes are too big the students won't get the attention they need to learn."
A budget shortfall led school board members to consider closing the three elementary schools.
Mark Carter, the Superintendent of Lee County Schools, explained the situation to us. "This year we're looking at operating on a budget that is about $2.2 million less than we operated on last year, which is significant for a school system of our size," he said.
The idea of closing some schools didn't sit well with many in attendance.
Here are just a few of public comments we got: "I know if our schools close their education will be hurt."
"To explain to a child, mom why can't we go to Ewing this year? It's a good school."
"Now you're going to send them from Keokee all the way down to Ewing? How are they going to get gas? They can't even get food for their families folks."
Others told the board it was too close to the start of the school year for such a big change. Some threatened to send their children out of the county for school because of large class sizes. One parent said, "why take our children, put them in overcrowded schools like sardines or animals?"
Lee County School Superintendent Mark Carter tells us he understands how big this decision is. "I realize that anytime a community's school closes that community loses a great deal of support in that community," he said.
School Board Chair Debbie Jessee tells us the school board voted 3 to 2 to close the three elementary schools and consolidate with other elementary schools in the county.