County delays plans for new Thompson Intermediate

Published 11:52 am Tuesday, May 17, 2011

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Shelby County School District will not proceed with building a new Thompson Intermediate School in Alabaster until the city decides if it will move forward with creating a city school district.

The announcement came May 17, when the county school district released the details of its capital improvement project plan. The plan calls for constructing a new TIS building and restructuring grade levels at some other schools in the city.

In late April, the Alabaster City Council voted to fund a city school district feasibility study, which likely will be completed in about three months. Before voting to fund the study, Alabaster Mayor David Frings and other city officials said they would not be in favor of a new intermediate school, and said they would rather see a new Thompson High School.

“Out of respect for the city leadership of Alabaster and their desire to start a new school district, we will not move forward with our plans to build a new school (in Alabaster) at this time,” Shelby County Schools Superintendent Randy Fuller wrote in a letter to city government officials.

“Those plans will be on hold while the city of Alabaster completes its feasibility study,” Fuller added. “After the study is completed and a determination is made regarding their school district, we will work collaboratively with the city to do what is in the best interest of the students of that community.”

If the county moves forward with constructing a new TIS, the existing TIS and Thompson Sixth Grade Center building would be renovated and converted into a new Thompson Middle School. The new TMS would house grades six and seven.

The existing TMS building would be renamed to Thompson Junior High, and would serve grades eight and nine. THS, which currently houses grades nine-12, would then house grades 10-12.

According to Fuller, the grade restructuring would reduce the THS enrollment by about 500 students, and would “enable the other schools to better accommodate future increases in enrollment.”

Ward 7 Alabaster Councilman Tommy Ryals said the county’s plan to delay the TIS building project was a “smart move on (the county’s) part.”

“I don’t think it would warrant the county spending all that money when we don’t know which direction we are going to go with forming our own school district,” Ryals said. “Especially for, in my opinion, a building we don’t really need.

“We have said for a long time we would like to have a new high school. We don’t need to split the students up more than they already are,” Ryals added. “I think the county is doing the right thing by holding off, but it would still be nice to have a sit-down meeting with the county to discuss what our plans are.”

Ryals said the city will be able to make a “definite decision” regarding forming a city school district after the feasibility study is completed.

“We are doing some exploratory information gathering right now,” Ryals said. “I think we will have the info we need to finally put it to bed for good once the study comes back.”