Land swap planned for historic black school

Posted: April 26, 2012 – 12:01am

G.G. Rigsby/Effingham Now




Effingham County is planning on swapping about 97 acres of undeveloped land in the southern part of the county to the board of education for the former Central High School, which sits on 23 acres in Springfield.

Central High School was an “equalization” school that had only black students from 1956 through 1970. Some alumni have been meeting every week for the last year, discussing ways to preserve the school and bring more programs to area residents.

Statewide, about 10 of the equalization schools have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, according to Jeanne Cyriaque, African American programs coordinator for the historic preservation division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. She spoke about the schools at a recent meeting of Central High alumni.

Georgia spent $30 million building 500 equalization schools all across the state in the 1950s. It was a massive resistance to integration, trying to prove that schools for blacks could be separate but equal, she said.

Cyriaque, who started getting involved in preservation of equalization schools about 10 years ago, said buildings have to be at least 50 years old to be on the Historic Register, and the schools only recently became eligible.

She said the schools have a signature look. They tended to be built on large campuses, with more than one building, connected by outdoor walkways and interior courtyards. They had flat roofs and lots of windows.

The other equalization school in Effingham County was in Guyton. It has been torn down.

Franklin Goldwire, former principal at South Effingham High School and a 1965 graduate of Central High, said the school opened in early 1956 and served black students in grades one through 12 through 1970, when county schools were integrated.

The building then became a junior high school for students of all races. It was turned into a middle school, then was vacant briefly, then became an elementary school before being closed again, Goldwire said.

These days, the county’s recreation department uses the school’s gymnasium and some of the buildings are used for Head Start and Even Start programs.

A deal is in the works for the county to swap the vacant land for the high school property, which should be completed this summer.

South county landowners Chris and Barry Sheehy gave the vacant 97 acres to the county and later gave an adjacent 128 acres, also vacant, to the school system.

Barry Sheehy said he would like for the school system to own both parcels.

The swap is good for the county and the school system, said school Superintendent Randy Shearouse. The county has a lot of uses for the school, Shearouse said.

“It’s a real positive for us and the county,” he said. “I think it will work for everyone.”

Shearouse said the school system will have to declare the school as “surplus” and the county will have to hold public hearings before making the swap, which would be of property only, with no dollars changing hands.


What’s next

Cyriaque urged alumni to start paperwork to get the Springfield school on the National Register, which takes 18 months to two years. She suggests forming partnerships to preserve the buildings, because they are so large.

Other communities in Georgia use them for such things as community or cultural centers or alternative schools. A school in Rome, Ga., has classrooms that were adopted by community organizations and sponsor mentoring programs for area youth.

Cyriaque said if Effingham becomes a “certified local government,” it might qualify for some preservation grants to refurbish the school. Tourism grants also might be available.

County commissioners recently chose to put the new jail at the current jail site rather than at the Central High School site.

“I appreciate the history of the school and am interested in preserving that,” said county Commissioner Steve Mason, who also attended the recent meeting of the school’s alumni. “I don’t think there’s anybody that has any intention of bulldozing the school.”

Mason said some of the buildings could be used as an administrative area for the sheriff’s office. A youth leadership academy also would be a good use for the buildings, he said.

The alumni group, led in part by Goldwire, is interested in starting a parent university and tutorial after-school program.

“Our organization is in it for the long haul,” Goldwire said. “We vow to continue this mission even if we have to package it up and put it on the back of a pickup truck.”

County Administrator David Crawley, who also attended the recent alumni meeting, said the school is in relatively good shape but would need some utility upgrades — a better water source and lines for Internet access — before it could house county offices.

Crawley said the school presents an opportunity. “From our standpoint, the county has kind of grown into every old, cheap, free building we can get into,” he said. “A central school site would give us a central site for services. We’d have a chance to get out of old buildings that are not historic and are separated from other services.”

He said the grounds of the old school could be used more by the community. “The fence kind of inhibits use by the community,” he said. “There’s a lot of land, a lot of potential.”

Mason said the county commission might move from the former church building it meets in now to the school. “There are a lot of options there,” he said. “Let’s quit looking short-term.”

Parent University-Effingham is Saturday

Reposted from SavannahNOW

The second Parent University—Effingham is scheduled for this Saturday, Feb. 2.

Registration and a breakfast begin at 7:30 a.m. and classes start after a general session about 9:40 a.m.

Classes are designed to bridge the gap between home, school and community.

The university is for ages 17 and older, with activities available for children 4 to 17 years old.

Classes include an update on the new common core Georgia performance standard, protecting yourself on the internet, CPR basics, bullying and legal consequences, safety in our schools, how to prepare for parent-teacher conferences, understanding student testing and achievement and information on programs and services at the Effingham College and Career Academy.

Parent-University will be held at Effingham County Middle School, 1659 Ga. 119 South, Guyton.

For more information call 912-754-5680, 912-772-3885 or 912-754-3835.

All activities are free and lunch is also provided.

Door prizes will also be awarded.

County to hold first Parent University

Reposted from Effingham Herald

Parents of all Effingham County schoolchildren are invited to attend the county’s first Parent University, on Sept. 15 at Effingham County Middle School.
The day of free seminars will include discussion of Georgia’s new common core performance standards. Parents also can attend sessions on topics such as local reading initiatives, homework tips, Internet safety, bullying and community resources.
Parent University-Effingham is sponsored by the Springfield Central High School Association, Effingham County Board of Education and community agencies. Organizers say the goal is to help parents meet their children’s needs by “bridging the gap between the home, school and community.”
“Research shows that, when parents are involved in their children’s education at home, the children do better in school. Parent University-Effingham will provide opportunities for parents to sharpen their parenting skills, learn what children are learning in school and how to help,” said Norma Wallace, one of the Parent University organizers.
Parent University will begin with registration and breakfast at 7:30, followed by a general session from 8:45-9:30. Parents will then break out for three sessions – 9:40-10:30, 10:40-11:30 and 11:40-12:30 – on topics they select. Lunch will be served at 12:40.
The entire Parent University program is free of charge. Registration forms are being distributed to all Effingham County students and also are available at the school system’s central office in Springfield. The registration deadline is Sept. 6.
“We are very excited about providing opportunities for parents to gain new understandings and varied points of view on the curriculum, ways to keep the family safe, adolescent behavior, conflict resolution, understanding test scores, health/wellness and cultural enrichment, stress management, leadership development, family and financial literacy and planning – all of which parents can use to help their children succeed not only in school but throughout life,” said Rev. Herbert Hall, chairman of the Springfield Central Association.
In addition to the classes, vendors will be on hand from 7:30-8:45 a.m. and 1:30-3:30 p.m. Childcare will be available for children ages 6 months-3 years.
For more information about Parent University, call 754-5680, 772-3885 or 754-3835.