Seven schools are on the chopping block within Columbus City Schools. Thursday night, staff, students and parents had the opportunity to tell the board why their school should be saved.
"Independence is just the bomb, point blank, period," said student Kai Dysart.
Fiery words from the member of a legacy family at Independence High School. She was followed up by the head football coach, also an alum.
"I sat in the same classrooms, I know how they will feel if they return one day like I did and they no longer find Independence to be their home. Walnut Ridge can house our students but it cannot house our history," said Maurice Douglas.
For two hours, emotional pleas flooded the auditorium. Teachers, administrators, students and parents trying to save the schools they love. Their words hit some heartstrings.
"Now I'm getting emotional because we care. My emotion is because we care," said district committee member Maria Stockard.
Stockard says the committee decided to recommend the seven schools based on several criteria. Most are nowhere near capacity, consolidating saves a lot of money.
"We have a 50 million dollar budget reduction coming up and we have to make our facilities the right size," said Stockard.
"I know you see this as numbers and money but we're not numbers and money. We're a family, this is my home," said Independence teacher Sarah Bensman.
The committee was quick to point out, this isn't a done deal. They're also considering what's heard at the meeting before they make their final recommendation. The group just hopes they were loud enough.
"If you don't start partnering up with the people in Columbus, there's not going to be anything left but charter schools and nothing," said a Siebert.
There will be another input meeting February 25 at East High School. The committee will then make its final recommendation and the board will vote March 4.