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The Glynn County Board of Education voted to allow Superintendent Virgil Cole to sign a letter of intent that will transfer the former Risley High School to organizers of the State of Hope project.

Glynn County’s “State of Hope” site moved one step closer to becoming reality Tuesday night.

The Glynn County Board of Education voted unanimously during its meeting to allow Superintendent Virgil Cole to sign a letter of intent that will transfer a school system-owned property over to organizers of the “State of Hope” project.

That property, the Historic Risley Memorial Site, located on Albany Street in Brunswick, will be used as the campus for a community resource center that will house multiple programs spanning the various services needed for low-income, at-risk families in this area.

Coastal Georgia Area Community Action Authority has led this project and partnered with many local nonprofits and other groups to bring the idea to fruition.

“We have come to the conclusion that we cannot do it alone. There is no one organization that can resolve every issue of every problem of every family that is experiencing poverty,” said Tres Hamilton, CEO of Community Action Authority, during an address to the school board before the vote. “We know that in order for our students to be productive here within the Glynn County education system … we know that the families need support.”

Supporters and partners of the State of Hope project were in attendance at the meeting Tuesday night and cheered when the school board voted to approve the property transfer.

Work on the project officially began last year when Community Action Authority received approval from Georgia Division of Family and Children Services along with a $125,000 funding award.

The center will work with families holistically, Hamilton said, through services like financial education, employment aid, rental assistance and more. The center will also be an early education hub for young people and their families.

“We will be equipping our families with the skill sets they need to be able to move from the point of poverty to that point of self-sufficiency,” Hamilton said.

The letter of intent Cole signs will allow for a 60-day period of “due diligence,” after which a contract for sale can be drawn up and signed.

The community center will be housed where the historic Risley High School was once located and in one of the most low-income areas of Brunswick.

“We are excited about the potential that it could provide for the community,” Cole said. “We understand as well that this is a great need in our community, especially with the poverty that we see around us, and it certainly impacts us as a school system.”

According to the resolution, the school board is in favor of changing the law to include “designated felony” as a potential penalty when a student makes a terroristic threat to “threaten, harm, or kill a mass body by threatening to shoot, detonate a bomb or other explosive device, to the extent that such threat, either real or perceived, whether intended or not to cause bodily harm and destroy any school facility.”

The language of the resolution was crafted with the help of Audrey Chapman, associate juvenile court judge in Glynn County. Chapman plans to include the resolution in information she will present to State Sen. William Ligon, asking him to introduce this legislation in the upcoming session.

The school board previously discussed the resolution at-length in a work session Jan. 3, and school board member Eaddy Sams pointed out that they clarified in that meeting that such a law change would only increase the penalty options a judge has in these cases, which have become a rising issue in schools locally and nationwide.

“This just expands the judge’s options for the punishment, and the penalty is not an automatic ‘felony,’” Sams said.

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