Florala locals ‘sad’ school’s closing

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, September 16, 2009

While Florala residents may understand the economics behind the decision to close Florala City Middle School, most say they “just don’t like it.”

The Covington County Board of Education voted last Thursday to close the school in a “realignment of the Covington County School System.” Their vote also included splitting Red Level School into both an elementary school and a high school.

FCMS, which houses grades seven and eight, will officially close this summer. Students will begin the new school year as Florala High School students.

“It really makes me sad,” said Christy Carpenter, whose 7-year-old daughter Delaney is a second grade student at W.S. Harlan Elementary School. “I worry about the transition from elementary school to high school. That’s a big jump. I’d really like to see them keep the seventh grade at the elementary school.”

Michelle Mitchell, whose grandson currently attends Florala High School, said she didn’t like hearing of the closing because “all my children went there.”

“I can remember our dog walking my son to school there and going back waiting to walk him home,” Mitchell said. “It’s that feeling of home that I think the community is going to miss. We’ve got very good memories from there.”

Angela Kokotovich’s 13-year-old daughter, Gretchen, will make the transition to FHS next year and said she’s not worried a bit.

“My daughter, Gretchen, that is, she’s excited,” Kokotovich said. “She’s not worried a bit. I’m not sure about the whole closing the school concept. I hope it’s a good thing. I know why they need to do it.

“The middle school is such a great place,” she said. “We love (principal) Mr. (Rodney) Drish. What they do there is great.”

One concerned citizen, who declined to be identified, said she understood the decision from a “taxpayer’s standpoint.”

“That’s a lot of expense for so few students,” she said. “I just hope they don’t let that building sit. I’d love to see (Lurleen. B. Wallace Community College) or some college use it as an annex building so people here could further their education.”

No plans have been announced for the use of the building, which, after it has served its purpose as an educational facility, will revert back into the ownership of the city of Florala.