Uncertainty Surrounds Pickens County Schools

PICKENS COUNTY, Al. (WCBI)- An uncertain future surrounds Pickens County Schools as rumors continue to spread about school closings and consolidation.

“This community has got to come together, they got to come together and put the school back on track because if they don’t, it will close down,” said Chad Crenshaw, a graduate of Pickens County High School.

As the concerns continue to spread, so does people’s frustrations.

“This ain’t no joke, this ain’t no joke,” Crenshaw expressed. “They really are serious about closing the school down and separating us.”

The future of the school is currently in limbo due to a steady decline in student enrollment.

“It’s going to continue to decline because there’s just not enough people living in Pickens County that are having school age kids that are able to go to school here,” said Pickens County Schools Superintendent Jamie Chapman.

Chapman said the high school currently has 221 students enrolled.

That number needs to increase to 250 by October 2nd, and if not, Chapman said the school board will then be forced to make some tough decisions.

“If we don’t do something we’re going to have to come up with some kind of consolidation or reconfiguration that we’re going to have to come up with, and then we will have to get approval from the courts,” the superintendent explained.

The alarming news brought hundreds of concerned parents and residents out to a PTO meeting Thursday night to come up with possible solutions to help save the school.

“My kids did graduate and I graduated from here too, so I’m very concerned about keeping the school,” said Martha Dixon, who was at Thursday’s meeting, and is also a graduate of PCHS.

During the meeting, the Pickens County Board of Education gave residents a survey to fill out with different possible re-configurations to choose from.

“We can’t keep funding at over $200,000 a year that’s just not equitable,” said Chapman.

The options include: making Reform Elementary School Grades K-6, and Pickens County High School 7-12.

Making the elementary school Grades K-5 and the high school Grades 6 -12.

Making the elementary school grades K-4 and the high school grades 5-12, or making one unit with Grades K-12.

“I feel like if this is going to make Pickens County High School continue to be Pickens County High School then we should follow those options, we got vote,” said Dixon.

The school district is currently 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.

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