County school superintendent responds to Pelham concernsPublished 10:23am Wednesday, July 17, 2013
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
The Shelby County School System is conducting several renovations at Pelham schools, but will determine funding for future projects based on economic conditions “within the next three to five years,” according to a document sent to Pelham leaders by the Shelby County school superintendent.
Pelham Councilman Maurice Mercer recently sent Shelby County School Superintendent Randy Fuller nine questions related to Pelham’s schools, eliciting an eight-page response from Fuller.
Pelham officials provided those in attendance at a July 15 public hearing on a proposed city sales tax increase with copies of Fuller’s response. Pelham currently is considering forming its own city school system.
In his response, Fuller wrote “Pelham schools will continue to have facility needs and repairs addressed.”
In the next six months to five years, the Shelby County School System plans to renovate the main office, replace portions of the roof, update the HVAC system, replace the bleachers in the main gymnasium and update the auditorium at Pelham High School.
Valley Elementary and Valley Intermediate will receive entrance redesigns and HVAC upgrades, according to Fuller.
The county school system also is performing several upgrades this summer at Pelham schools.
“Since we are in the process of completing our current bond issue, we will not have the immediate capability to fund any new building (in Pelham),” Fuller wrote.
Mercer and Pelham Mayor Gary Waters said they were encouraged by Fuller’s response, and said they would like to set up a meeting between county school officials and Pelham leaders.
“I am encouraged by what I heard from Mr. Fuller,” Waters said, noting he is opposed to forming a Pelham school system now. “The main thing that excites me is that it represents open dialogue and that the message we have sent has been heard.”
“I think he touched on some of the issues here,” Mercer said of Fuller. “Hopefully, the City Council can have a meeting with the superintendent and School Board to talk about some of our grievances.”
Some council members said they were not satisfied with Fuller’s answers.
Council President Rick Hayes said he and Waters met with Fuller in December to share their concerns about Pelham’s schools.
“We met in December. It wasn’t a recent meeting,” Hayes said. “I had a different reaction to the letter than Gary did.”
Councilman Ron Scott said the timeline laid out in Fuller’s letter was too long.
“I was disappointed with the answers given,” said Councilman Ron Scott. “I think we are waiting for Mr. Fuller to deliver something he can’t deliver.”
To view Fuller’s entire response, visit Pelhamonline.com/shelby-county-school-systems-response.