◇Majority of the City Council decides not to pursue the elementary school property.
The Cave Spring City Council had a packed room Tuesday night as community members awaited the council’s vote on their next action in the elementary school quiet title case.
Cave Spring, GA-With the hearing scheduled for Friday, the Cave Spring City Council is opting out of a claim filed against the Floyd County school system over the Cave Spring Elementary School property.
The dispute over the school property goes back to 2020, when Cave Spring Elementary’s student population reached such a low point that the Georgia Department of Education was going to pull funding from it.
Prior to the announcement of the closure, Mayor Rob Ware met with former Floyd County superintendent Jeff Wilson and then-Floyd County Board of Education chair Tony Daniel to discuss possibilities concerning the school. Despite rumors to the contrary, Daniel said the school board made no offer to give the school to Cave Spring and the early meeting was primarily a brainstorming session regarding the property.
In January 2021, the school board voted to close Cave Spring Elementary School and Glenwood Primary School, stating that the system had too many buildings and not enough students.
Throughout 2021, the Cave Spring Community Coalition was formed in an effort to save the school property and turn it into a community center for the town. The group was able to raise money and apply for grants, but they ultimately sought a way to procure the property without having to buy it.
This is where a contract between the county school system and a former Cave Spring school district from almost 100 years ago comes into play.
When the elementary school was purchased by the county school system in 1929, a reversion clause was included in that agreement. It stated that if the school system ever used the property for anything other than school purposes, the ownership would revert back to the Trustees of the Cave Spring Consolidated School District.
However, that school district was dissolved sometime in the 1930s. The Floyd County school system’s attorney King Askew contends that dissolution makes the clause null and void.
Attorney Wade Hoyt IV presents his findings on the Cave Spring Elementary School quiet title action at the City Council meeting Tuesday.
Many Cave Spring residents contend that, because the consolidated school district was so intertwined with the Cave Spring City Council, the government has a right to the property.
The school board argues that even if the reversion clause was enforceable, that entity no longer exists. Secondly, the Floyd County school board doesn’t intend to use the property “for other than school purposes,” they argue. They intend to sell it.
In April, the city council opposed a quiet title action by the school system in an effort to finally obtain the property. In essence, the title action seeks to clear any claims on the property so the school system can sell it. Since the council’s attorney works at the same firm as Askew, they hired Wade Hoyt IV to represent them in the case.
During a presentation at a crowded city council meeting on Tuesday, Hoyt described the case as one of the most interesting he’s ever taken on, from a legal standpoint.
After doing his own research and working with Cave Spring Coalition Chair Judy Taylor, Hoyt said he couldn’t find enough evidence to back up the claim that the council has a right to the property. He also couldn’t find any kind of title the consolidated school district might have had.
“This would be a very, very difficult argument from a legal standpoint,” Hoyt said.
Councilmember Jason West and Hoyt met with FCS Superintended Glenn White and other school board members to discuss the case. After talking with them, West came out of the meeting with the conclusion they have “less than 1% chance” of winning the case.
However, West did say that the school board was still open to working with the community and doing what’s best for Cave Spring with the school property.
After hearing the presentation, the Cave Spring City Council took a vote on whether they should pull out of the lawsuit.
Councilmembers Joyce Mink and Tom Lindsey voted against pulling out of the lawsuit but West, Steven Pierce and Charles Jackson voted for ending it.