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Georgiana school named Butler County Magnet

The new school in Georgiana has a name: The Butler County Magnet School.

Board of Education members approved the name during a board meeting on Thursday night in Greenville. The vote was unanimous.

Superintendent Mike Looney said board members chose the name as representative of the school’s intent: To be a 21st century technological, science and mathematics K-12 institution which administrators hope will attract students from across county lines.

“By providing access to state-of-the-art teaching and learning technologies, it will prepare students for the ever-changing world of the 21st century,” said Looney. “The expanded magnet school curriculum will focus on math, science and technology. With this kind of preparation, we are confident that our students can and will rise to the academic challenges of tomorrow.”

The naming of the school was not without controversy.

One name considered was one honoring President-Elect Barack Obama, but ultimately the school system decided against naming it The Obama Magnet Academy.

County Commissioner Jerry Hartin (District 1) attended the meeting and said he would have rather seen the school named the Georgiana Public School.

He was glad the board decided against the Obama name.

“I’m glad it was not named for an individual,” said Hartin, a graduate of Georgiana High School. “This has been a divisive issue and I believe it was done strictly for publicity and it has caused a lot of divisiveness in the Georgiana community.”

Hartin said he was notified the board was considering naming the school for Obama at approximately 1 p.m. Thursday.

“I was very saddened that I had to hear it from someone in the community,” he said. “As a part of the Butler County Commission – without which this school could have never been built – I was disappointed that we were not consulted or allowed to have any input in this decision.”

The county commission approved a half-cent sales tax increase in 2007 that provided the bulk of the $25 million bond for school construction and renovations throughout Butler County, including $14 million for a Georgiana K-12 school.

Hartin said he was looking forward to the school’s completion, which he said would be extremely beneficial to Georgiana.

The school is scheduled to open in August 2009.

Board member Johnny Lee said the Obama name was one of 16 names considered, including Hank Williams Memorial High School.

He was pleased with the choice.

“We came to a consensus that we wanted something that represented the county the hopes of the future,” said Lee.

Enrollment for Butler County students living in other school zones will be based on application, said Looney. Students wishing to apply for enrollment should request an information packet from the Butler County Board of Education Central Office. Application packets will be available April 6, 2009.