Down the Hall: Crowded schools take away from intent

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 30, 2007

By TAYLOR SANDERS / Guest Columnist

As the fastest growing county in Alabama and with a population nearing 200,000, the need for new classrooms and schools is present.

At Thompson High School alone there are more than 1,600 students. Crowded classrooms and hallways can make it difficult for everyone to stay focused on the main objective: education. THS also has 15 of the 173 portable classrooms in Shelby County this year. These trailers make it hard for not only students but faculty because of their location. During inclement weather, they are harder to get to than a normal classroom, and safety is a major concern.

While trailers are a temporary fix, the permanent solution is new or improved school facilities. The problem with building new schools, however, is funding.

As our population grows, so does the need for more educational facilities. So how do we fix this problem?

In 2003, Gov. Bob Riley proposed a $1.2 billion tax increase, in part for education. By an overwhelming majority, Alabama voters turned it down. While no one wants taxes increased, our tax rate is the lowest in the nation. Some citizens are afraid the money from the tax raise will not make it to education, but this seems to be one of the most significant solutions available.

Nevertheless, families are making out checks to schools for classroom materials and fees. And if kids even think about being involved in extracurricular activities, such as band or sports, parents must be prepared to spend at least an extra $500. Though the tax increase did not pass, many tax payers are still footing the bill for education and student involvement.

Another possible solution is a state lottery. Surrounding states including Tennessee, Georgia and Florida have successful lotteries that support their educational systems. Why can’t Alabama?

I am a Southern Baptist, so when it comes to gambling, I’m not really for it. But if education, students and the future of the state all benefit from the money raised by the lottery, then maybe we should consider it.

When it comes to education in Alabama, there is one thing that is for sure. Classrooms and hallways are way too crowded. There is no reason more money and land shouldn’t go to education.

Taylor Sanders is a 12th-grade student at Thompson High School