Alabaster sticks with county school system

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Remain a part of the Shelby County Board of Education. To meet city desires, make a formal agreement to assist with the funding of capital and other projects and share control.

That was the recommendation presented to the general public and members of the Alabaster City Council Monday night following a study which began in May 2005 at a maximum cost of $12,000 to determine the feasibility of establishing a separate board of education for the city of Alabaster.

The study was conducted by H&H Associates, a computer and educational research consulting firm based in Pleasant Grove.

In attendance from the Shelby County Board of Education were Tom Ferguson, assistant superintendent of operations, and Robin Thomas, principal at Thompson High School.

According to the findings, Alabaster is a city of more than 25,000 residents with more than 5,000 students attending the five schools within the city limits. About 100 students attend other schools in the county.

Based on a five-year projection, the school zone would include 6,500 students.

According to the study, a city with 5,000 inhabitants can have a city board of education.

The school system spent $8,914 per student in Alabaster, and anticipated revenues for 5,532 students would be $49,317,260.

However, according to the study, in a separate school system, board members would have to be named and compensated, there would be need for a board attorney experienced in school la, and there would be need for central office staff, a superintendent, maintenance and special needs facilities.

The study found that Alabaster could have a school system of its own meeting minimal educational standards. But it would cost the city more as an independent system to maintain the status quo.

It was recommended that the city seek an agreement with the board in which it could provide funding for buildings or special needs such as additional math programs specifically for Alabaster schools. And the city could have a board of trustees, which would have some control over those schools.

Such control could include approval or disapproval of personnel appointments at the schools, control of incidental fees, limited control of building maintenance, the ability to file charges with the board of education for dismissal of personnel and control over the civic uses of school facilities.

The trustees would be selected by the city council and approved by the Board of Education. School principals would also be non-voting members of the board of trustees.

Alabaster Mayor David Frings said, &8220;We do need to hear what people think. It&8217;s not just to create another school system just to create it.&8221; But he said if something dramatic happened in the county to change the current situation, &8220;It might just force our hand.&8221;

Following the meeting, Councilmember Jim McClain said, &8220;I think we have to take the recommendation under advisement, look at the report in detail and ask the citizens what they think.&8221;

Council President Rick Walters said, &8220;I think it&8217;s interesting. I didn&8217;t know that a trustee system existed. It looks very promising, I&8217;m interested in what our residents think.&8221;

Frings said the study gives the city more options than simply forming a separate school system.

It &8220;gives us something we can build on,&8221; he said