Chelsea parents express concerns

Chelsea residents will see dirt turned for the construction of MT Laurel Elementary School next month.

A special meeting was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon by the Shelby County Board of Education at the Instructional Services Center in Alabaster to award the bid for MT Laurel Elementary School construction.

Superintendent Evan Major did not make a recommendation to accept a low bid for construction of the school at the board’s regular April 15 meeting.

He said at the time, the school system wanted to &uot;get the lowest bid we can get.&uot; He also said contractors were &uot;value engineering&uot; the school and that bids were close.

Major said as of the regular April

meeting, a lot of work remained to be done as there were several alternatives to consider to make sure of the low bid and to make sure the low bid

falls within the school system’s budget.

Assistant Superintendent of Operations Tom Ferguson told a group of concerned Chelsea parents following the April meeting, &uot;We will be digging at the site in May.&uot;

He also said funds for MT Laurel are already in the school system’s budget.

According to information provided by school spokesperson Cindy Warner, MT Laurel is slated to open for the 2004-05 school year. It will be a K-5 elementary school situated in the Town of MT Laurel.

The school will be located in Chelsea High School attendance zone and will serve a portion of the students now attending Chelsea Elementary and future students who move into the zone.

Children attending MT Laurel Elementary will go to Chelsea Middle and Chelsea High.

Ferguson said the opening of MT Laurel Elementary will eliminate some of the overcrowding problems at Chelsea Elementary.

&uot;This will be the first step toward addressing the rapid growth in the Chelsea community,&uot; he said. &uot;The opening of MT laurel will remove the existing portable classrooms from Chelsea Elementary.&uot;

He went on to say that with successful approval of a proposed 9-mill property tax, &uot;we will be able to move forward to address new facilities, classroom additions and renovations for Chelsea Elementary, Middle and High Schools.&uot;

A group of concerned parents gathered for an informal discussion about the school construction needs of their community following the April

meeting with Ferguson and board members Peg Hill, Allen E. Rice and Trey Ireland.

Concerned parents included: Leanne Fowler, Sandy Watkins, Deanna Golden, Rachel Shoemaker, Tammy Fancher, Kelley Shelton (Chelsea Elementary PTO President), Russell Smith, Teddy Gregg, Marcella Baker and Billy McDaniel.

Shelton said: &uot;We are working on an organized group from the Chelsea area to keep track of what is going on with (school) construction and improvement to our area and make sure they don’t forget about us.&uot;

Smith said he attended the school board meeting because, &uot;We just heard we needed some people down here to get some pressure on them (school board).&uot;

One parent, when told the board is elected, said if action was not seen coming from the board, there would be action on the board.

Rice responded: &uot;That is your power;&uot; but he stressed the importance of passing a 9-mill property tax increase to allow the school system to fund a five-year capital outlay plan.

But another parent replied: &uot;Our area is so down on the board. I’m concerned (the tax vote) is not going to pass.&uot;

Ireland said: &uot;I believe if people ask questions, we can all be on the same page.&uot;

He said without the proposed 9-mill property tax increase, MT

Laurel will be the last new school built in the county