By Tia Lynn Ivey
What is to become of the current Morgan County Middle School (MCMS) building on Pearl Street in Madison has been the subject of much public discussion since the school board officially decided to build a brand new middle school at the current site of the high school on College Avenue.
The MCMS holds historic value for many in the community, as the building used to house Pearl Street High School, a school for African-Americans before integration came into effect. To ensure the legacy of the building remains, as well as continuing to be a positive force in the local community, the Morgan County Board of Education (BOE) has formed a committee of vested citizens to research repurposing possibilities for the building once MCMS relocated across town.
Sixteen citizens have committed to themselves to this task and will give an official recommendation to the BOE in November on the best future-use of the building.
Last Monday, the committee gathered to discuss possible ideas and strategy for tapping the community for input. The committee has distributed a community survey and will continue passing them out until April 30. So far, 167 surveys have been returned, with the most common suggestion being transforming MCMS into a multipurpose community center. The most popular organization suggested to take up residence at the building is the local Boys and Girls Club.
“I want this to become a core part of the community,” said Landers Thomas, who also sits on the Boys and Girls Club board. “I want to be able to build something here that is going to benefit this entire community.”
Suggested uses included public meeting spaces, a tutoring center, office rental space, a convenient store, senior housing, a small police precinct, and outposts for the health department, Family Connection, Georgia Military College, the rec department, or other social agencies.
“It’s a good list of possibilities,” said Madison Mayor Fred Perriman, who also serves on the committee.
However the building is used, all the committee members agreed that there should be a Pearl-Burney Alumni room to display artifacts from the Pearl-Burney school era. Reverend Alfred Murray, one of the committee members, suggested that the building should reclaim its original name, or at least, some version of it.
“The number one priority with me…is that whatever is done on this campus that it serve as an opportunity to rename it under Pearl High Community Center,” said Murray. “It’s a chance to reclaim that name, a golden opportunity to do it.” The committee will travel to Macon, Ga. in May to visit a community center as part of their research.
The committee will meet again in late June to review the findings of all the community surveys completed and to discuss the group’s trip to Macon.