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Sale of Georgia Washington will go forward after settlement reached between AEA, Superintendent Mackey

Sam Mattison

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The sale of Georgia Washington Middle School to Pike Road Schools cleared an important hurdle on Wednesday after the Alabama Education Association negotiated a settlement with newly-hired state Superintendent Eric Mackey.

Ultimately, the AEA agreed to the sale of the school under certain conditions after negotiating with Mackey.

Details of the agreement include keeping an elementary school in the district open for 5 more years, and certain assurances that Georgia Washington Middle School’s legacy will remain intact.

“While it is disappointing that Georgia Washington Middle School will no longer be a part of MPS, we are happy that Ms. Washington’s legacy will be secured as the campus transitions to Pike Road Schools,” Theron Stokes, AEA Associate Executive Director and counsel for the Plaintiffs, said.

Through a statement, the AEA credited the agreement to Mackey, who started in the position last week.

“In just his first seven days on the job, he has already shown a collaborative spirit and a willingness to work together for the benefit of all students,” AEA President Sherry Tucker said. “We look forward to continuing to build on the foundation Dr. Mackey has built with AEA. Students with Montgomery Public Schools and Pike Road Schools are the real winners today.”

Montgomery Public Schools is currently under a state intervention initially started under former state Superintendent Michael Sentance, and continued by interim Superintendent Ed Richardson and current Superintendent Mackey.

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The State Department of Education and the AEA engaged in a legal dispute over the sale of the school, which is a historic landmark according to the AEA. The group filed a lawsuit to stop the sale of the school and dispute the state intervention into MPS, but the Alabama Supreme Court denied the motion this month.

A rehearing was requested on Thursday by the AEA, where the group called into question the Court’s right to rule in Montgomery County.

At the center of this legal dispute has been the age-old question of the separation of powers on the state level.

For Montgomery, local officials seem to worry about the state’s increasing encroachment into the logistics of their school district. Most recently, the state department of education had some concerns over the contract of Montgomery’s newest state superintendent.

For the state, MPS has repeatedly underperformed in school evaluations, and the most recent report card by the state department found that more than a dozen schools in the district were failing. Additionally, the school district is facing a budget crisis that the state hopes to alleviate.

The sale of Georgia Washington was supposed to make up for some of the budget, and settle a long-standing dispute between Pike County Schools and MPS over misappropriated funds. The funds, which total to $1.4 million, were returned to MPS in March after attempts to sell Georgia Washington to Pike County were stalled because of a lawsuit by AEA.

Under Richardson, the reorganization of MPS became apparent with the now gone superintendent announcing radical changes including the firing of 400 teachers and the outsourcing of jobs.

Mackey now heads what his predecessor Michael Sentance once called the “most comprehensive” in the state’s history. The takeover started in February of last year.

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