Rumor Has It: Pickens County School Consolidation Rumors

PICKENS COUNTY, Ala. (WCBI) – Rumor has it, in West Alabama, consolidation in the cards for part of the Pickens County School District.

“Rumor, speculation has been running wide spread this year more than ever,”said Pickens County Schools Superintendent Jamie Chapman.

What people are talking about is the possible closing of Aliceville Middle and possibly reorganizing Pickens County High School, with students being relocated.

However, Chapman says that’s simply not the case.

“Declining enrollment, people get a little antsy. They start talking about a consolidation or whatever. Our board has had no consolidation discussion and we will look at the data and talk with the public about it in the community meeting and we’ll try and put some fears to rest,” said Chapman.

Aliceville City Councilman Terrence Windham says the fear came from one of the Community State of the School meetings the district hosts throughout the year.

“On March the 12th we had a meeting with the Pickens County School Board, they were doing their round table where they got to each school. They were explaining some different scenarios that included eliminating the middle school. That’s what a lot of citizens are concerned about,” said Windham.

The district is under consent decree of Lee V. Macon, which addresses desegregation of schools and requires the district to present any decisions regarding consolidation or re-districting to the Department of Justice for approval.

“We’re to that point in Aliceville of what we would be allowed to do. It’s basically driven by the number of 250 students. When you get under 250 kids in a school population you aren’t very efficient with resources and spending and your per people cost rise greatly. At Aliceville Middle School we’re at 240 this time. At Pickens County High school we’re at 220. We’re going to have to have some difficult conversations,” said Chapman.

The State of the School meetings show data to the community including; teacher units earned, State and Federal funding, and student enrollment numbers.

Windham says transparency is key, but there are other areas of concern in the district.

“We have a lot of other issues that our school board members and our superintendent needs to focus on such as the Failing school list that the high school is on. Also with our K-3 reading levels, we want those to increase,” said Windham.

The next state of the school meeting is tonight at Pickens County High School starting at 7pm.

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