Addressing St. Elmo closing rumors

COLUMBUS, Ga.- News 3 learned of rumors that the Saint Elmo Center for the Gifted was closing through emails between District 8 Muscogee County School District Board Member Frank Myers and Superintendent David Lewis.

Myers says the school is in his district and it allows students from district elementary schools to come in for a period of time and get advanced instruction. He says over the weekend he was receiving numerous phone calls regarding rumors of the school closing. He says if the school closed, the students who rely on the school would be out of luck.

st elmoMyers emailed Superintendent Lewis regarding the rumors. Myers said in those emails that the superintendent failed to assure him that the rumors were untrue. He added that the school is a proven winner and it should not be shut down. Myers went on to say that he wishes the superintendent would focus on fixing the nine elementary schools on the perpetual failing list.

Superintendent Lewis said there are no current plans to shut down the school. The superintendent says any school closures require a recommendation from him to the board for official action. He also said that barring an unforeseen event, he will not make any school closure recommendations to the board any later during the school year than January of the year of the recommended closure in order to provide adequate time for parents, students, school staff and the school district to make plans accordingly.

District 4 board member Naomi Buckner also corresponded with Myers and Lewis. She questioned Myers’ statement of the school being a proven winner. She mainly questioned what standards are used to call it a proven winner. She also said the superintendent would not make a random recommendation about an item of this magnitude. Buckner went on to say she does not see the need for the school. She said all other specialized groups are served at their home schools and teachers are expected to differentiate. She says she does not advocate for the closing of the school and there would have to be compelling reasons for her to do so.

Myers says the school’s director stepped down in September and they have been operating with a part-time person at the helm. He challenges the superintendent to hire a full-time person for the position, adding that several interviews have taken place and they sounded successful.

There will be a closed meeting Thursday, February 25 at 2:30 p.m. at the school called by the school’s acting administrator to address the rumors.

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