Pelham School Board members voted to hire a law firm for the upcoming city school system during a Dec. 26 meeting. (File)
Pelham School Board members voted to hire a law firm for the upcoming city school system during a Dec. 26 meeting. (File)

Archived Story

Pelham takes next step in school system formation

Published 6:32pm Thursday, December 26, 2013

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Pelham Board of Education’s newly hired lawyers said a July 1, 2014 formation date will not be impossible for the upcoming school system, but said School Board members must act quickly to make it happen.

During a more than two-hour meeting at Pelham City Hall on Dec. 26, School Board members voted unanimously to hire the Birmingham-based Bishop, Colvin, Johnson and Kent law firm to serve as the entity’s lawyers.

The vote came after the School Board heard presentations from Bishop, Colvin, Johnson and Kent, the Boardman, Carr, Bennett, Watkins, Hill and Gamble law firm and the Waldrep, Stewart and Kendrick law firm.

Bishop, Colvin, Johnson and Kent recently represented the Alabaster School System in its split from the Shelby County School System, and previously represented the Jefferson County School System in multiple separation agreements with cities.

During their presentation, Bishop, Colvin, Johnson and Kent lawyers Whit Colvin and Carl Johnson Jr. said they will work to “hit the ground running” in an effort to help the Pelham School Board finalize its split from the Shelby County School System by July 1, 2014.

“I think it’s manageable. I think it’s doable,” Johnson said of the 2014 spilt date. “Another year in limbo is probably not what your community expects.”

According to Alabama law, new school systems must form on a July 1. If Pelham does not finalize its split from the Shelby County School System in 2014, its next opportunity will be July 1, 2015.

Colvin and Johnson said they would be available to start working with the Pelham School Board on Dec. 27, and said the School Board’s first priorities will be hiring a superintendent and a chief school financial officer.

“You will be in a place where you are going to have to make key leadership decisions very, very quickly – primarily your superintendent and your CSFO,” Colvin said.

Johnson said the School Board should also consider appointing an interim superintendent before hiring a full-time leader.

“There is competition for quality leadership,” Colvin said, noting cities such as Northport and Gardendale also are working to form their own city school systems. “It’s critical you get started now.”

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