Helena works toward a high school

Published 4:03 pm Monday, February 23, 2009

Helena Mayor Sonny Penhale recently requested $25 million from Alabama’s cut of the federal stimulus package to help finance a Helena High School.

Helena has never had a high school, but is hoping to get the money for one within the next four years, Penhale said.

“You don’t ever know, so why not ask for (the money)?” he said. “You’re not going to get the money if you don’t ask.”

City Councilmember Cris Nelson said she believes the city did not get the money, as she has not heard whether the $25 million was part of the stimulus package President Barack Obama signed last week.

However, the city plans to continue to apply for funding for a high school whenever they can, Nelson said.

“We’ll request money on any level that we can get anybody to listen to us on. The Board of Education does not have the money. With all the financial concerns right now, (getting BOE money) just isn’t happening and isn’t going to happen within the next year or so,” she said.

Getting a Helena High School would be a huge boon to the community, she said.

“One of the good things would be that Helena-area children would not have to drive, or their parents would not have to drive, to Pelham High School anymore,” she said.

“One of the Council’s goals is to have every level of school available to all the kids here in Helena. We have the elementary, we have the intermediate, we have the middle — the only thing we’re lacking is a high school in our city.”

Penhale agreed, saying Helena needs a high school to be on the same level with the other cities in the county.

“We have the third-largest city in the county, and we are the only one that doesn’t have a high school,” he said.

Nelson said the council’s willing to be patient and work hard to see its goal happen.

“This is something that’s going to transpire over several years,” she said. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and if we talk about it enough, maybe we can get it accomplished.”