School officials: ‘No plan B’ after failed tax vote

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 20, 2004

&uot;We may very well have to make some budget cuts … There is no plan B. There is not another referendum … no other sources of revenues.&uot;

Those are the words of Shelby County School Superintendent Evan Major

as the Shelby County Board of Education anticipates its first meeting since the defeat of a 9-mill tax referendum for schools.

The school board will gather this Thursday, Jan. 22 at 6 p.m. at the central office in Columbiana.

Money from the failed Jan. 13 vote would have been earmarked for school construction.

According to Major, however, the school board will &uot;prepare to make the necessary cuts to do what we have to do (to provide classroom space).&uot;

Major said Shelby County School began the school year with 25 additional mobile classrooms.

Most, he said, were placed at Chelsea Elementary with some at Thompson Middle School.

He also said it is estimated with the increase in school population that the board will need to add another 25 mobile classrooms next year.

Major said funding for the 25 trailers added this year came from the capital budget.

For next year, he said, when the board builds its budget it will have to find sufficient funding to make the necessary provisions.

Major said elections in specific school zones of need have not been discussed by the board.

While he said he was aware that some school systems have done that, he pointed out that growth has been consistent all over Shelby County.

According to the board of education, the student population growth rate in Shelby County continues at a clip of about 1,000 students per year.

In August 2003, the public county school enrollment stood at 22,700 students.

It is projected that the school system will need to add about 50 trailers per year to keep up with growth for a projected total of more than 250 classroom trailers in place during the next five years.

Many have questioned the downside of mobile classrooms.

Major said they are an expense that the school system cannot recuperate. He said the trailers have to be moved and set up at some cost to the system.

In addition, they need the same electrical equipment and computers as normal classrooms, which he said means more expense and less efficiency.

Major said there is also the expense involved to provide covered walkways for students, partially keeping them out of the weather.

But, he said, students still have to travel outside to reach the main building to change classes, go to the restroom, lunch or to their lockers.

&uot;It’s just not the most appropriate classroom,&uot; Major said.

&uot;It is an alternative we’ve used before and an alternative we have to use, but does not make for the best classroom.&uot;

The school superintendent said other sources of revenues have not been discussed at this point.

&uot;At this point there are no other plans,&uot; Major said