OMHS seeks funds for library books

Oak Mountain High School is seeking funds to purchase books for its library to meet new accreditation standards.

And a $10,000 grant from State Rep. Mary Sue McLurkin has put OMHS closer to its goal of having 15,000 books in the school’s media center before January 2003.

The books are needed in order for the school to meet Southern Association of College and Schools (SACS) standards with regard to the number of books a school library must have.

Oak Mountain High School Principal Randy Fuller said two key issues have prevented the school from meeting the standards.

Enrollment increased at such a rapid pace, the library has not been able to keep up with growth.

And the library collection was started from scratch when the library opened four years ago rather than transferring library books from the schools that formed OMHS (Pelham and Chelsea).

According to Shelby County Schools Spokesperson Cindy Warner, Oak Mountain High School opened with a student population of 1,000 students. Today, the school has an enrollment of 1,589 students.

She noted that during the past four years, a total of $190,518 has been spent to build the library collection to 10,498 books. The school will need 4,502 books to reach its goal. And at an estimated cost of $20 per book, the school still needs about $90,040 in funds.

Warner reported that of the funds spent during the past four years, $152,525 came from the board of education, Title VI funds and state Library Enhancement Funds.

The remaining $37,999 was received from school fund-raisers, local grants and legislative grants such as that by Rep. McClurkin.

Warner also reported that the school has requested consideration for additional funding from the 2002-03 Shelby County Board of Education budget.

Finance Director Jim Davis said the request for funding is still under review by the board and will be re-visited at upcoming budget hearings.

Warner also reported that the school will continue its efforts to secure the remainder of the money needed through local donations and fund-raisers.

The school will also hold a book drive in an effort to have some of the books donated.

According to SACS Accreditation Standards, the timeline for the school to meet the standards was January 2001 to January 2003.

Fuller said the school will request an extension on the deadline if needed, although he does not feel that it will be necessary.

&uot;We are well on our way to reaching our goal, and I don’t have any doubt that the Board of Education and our community will work together in helping us to reach it,&uot;

he said.

&uot;We very much appreciate the tremendous amount of support that has already been given, including the generous grant through Rep. McClurkin.&uot;

McClurkin said the $10,000 she gave to the school came from community development grants each legislator gets to distribute to schools in their districts.

She said the funds are sometimes referred to as &uot;Pork.&uot;

&uot;The need was just there because Oak Mountain grew so much … We thought it was a good investment of that money,&uot; she said.

McClurkin now represents District 47, which includes North Shelby County and a portion of Jefferson county.

However, she said, the $10,000 from the current budget came from her old district which included North Shelby and all of Bibb County.

McClurkin presented the legislative grant check to Oak Mountain High School during open house held Sept. 10.

&uot;I encourage all parents at Oak Mountain High School, community leaders and area businesses to participate in this important fund-raising effort.

&uot;It is essential that children have access to books in their learning process. Books were an important part of my youth, and it is my hope that we can always provide a large number and up to date books for all our schools.&uot;

Davis said Oak Mountain was one of the first schools started where the board didn’t split the library such as taking a percentage from Pelham High School where some of the students came from. And he attributed the need there now to &uot;overwhelming growth.&uot;

He also noted that Pelham High School has continued to grow and that the board did not want to rob from its library putting both libraries at risk of an accreditation warning.

Davis said specific funds were not added to the budget for Oak Mountain because the board wanted to see what other funds would be available.

He also said school libraries are generally supported by the community and the board wanted to see what the community could come up with.

He pointed out that Oak Mountain was the first school the board gave $90,000 to open its library.

Davis said there is no immediate risk of Oak Mountain’s library losing accreditation. He said the library would be given a warning first.

Again he stressed that the issue of the Oak Mountain library will re-addressed by the board