Growth impacts county school system

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The city of Alabaster recently added more than 90 acres of land to its city limits destined for residential use. What will be the impact of such growth on the Shelby County School System?

The land was annexed following a series of special meetings held Tuesday, Oct. 11 for Cedar Lane LLC off Smokey Road in Alabaster.

According to developers Trace McNeely of Pelham and Kenneth Carter of Montevallo, that land will be for residential use.

While the city of Alabaster has contracted for a study to see if it would be feasible to operate its own school system, no final results of that report has been received to date, according to city attorney Greg Morris.

As of the first month of the 2005-06 school year, Alabaster Schools including Creek View Elementary, Meadow View Elementary, Thompson High School, Thompson Intermediate School and Thompson Middle School had a combined enrollment of 5,574 students.

Another area of growth strain for the school system is Chelsea.

In September, construction began on Chelsea Park Elementary School.

Chelsea Park Elementary is the last school to date for which the Shelby County Board of Education had leverage funds to build.

Even with the construction of the new school, Shelby County School Superintendent Evan Major said that would not do away with the need for the old Chelsea Elementary building.

Instead he said that building would be used to house middle and elementary students.

Major also said as the school system continues to grow, there would be a need for more school facilities.

Major said two years ago the school system developed a five-year $150 million capital outlay plan to build school facilities.

A tax increase that was to be the basis of funding for the plan, referred to by Major, was defeated by Shelby County voters, however.

Today, Major said, &8220;The system is no closer to finding the funding for that construction.

During a recent work session, it was reported that the school system is growing at a rate quicker than expected.

Major said when Chelsea Park Elementary opens its doors, Chelsea Elementary will become Chelsea Intermediate School.

He said Chelsea fourth and fifth graders will remain in the old elementary School building.

Mt. Laurel, the next newest school constructed in the county, will be reduced to kindergarten through third grades, and fourth and fifth graders from there will be transferred to Chelsea Intermediate, in the former Chelsea Elementary facility.

&uot;It’s all about growth,&uot; Major said