Meeting focuses on immigration, schools

Published 11:16 pm Thursday, June 9, 2011

Alabaster Mayor David Frings, left, looks on as Bobby Lee Harris speaks during a June 9 community meeting at Liberty Baptist Church in Simmsville. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Alabaster officials said the city could see its own school district in as early as two years after the feasibility study is completed, and said they would like to see the state’s immigration issues addressed on the federal level during a June 9 community meeting at Simmsville’s Liberty Baptist Church.

During the hour-and-a-half meeting, Alabaster Mayor David Frings and Ward 1 Councilwoman Sophie Martin addressed several of the city’s issues, including the possible formation of a city school district, immigration and drug use in the city.

Frings said he was still “on the fence” regarding the city possibly splitting with the Shelby County School District to form its own school district, but said he was not in favor of a county plan to construct a new intermediate school in Alabaster.

“I see that as a nightmare,” Frings said, noting the county plan would cause the city to have two elementary schools, an intermediate school, a middle school, a junior high school and a high school.

“I could see four jumps, but not five,” Frings added to the group of about 15 at the church.

Martin said it would likely take the city about two years to finalize plans to create its own school district if the City Council decides to break from the county district. The council is currently waiting on the results of a feasibility study, which likely will be completed in August.

“We are looking at two years of financially getting ready to successfully do a city school system. It will take at least two years to begin it,” Martin said.

Frings said the city likely would have to raise its taxes if it decides to create a city school district, but the tax increase may not be as high as originally thought.

“Alabaster’s ad valorem and portion of the 1-cent county sales tax is a big part of what the county takes in,” Frings said. “I think they are taking in more tax money being generated in Alabaster than is being spent on schools and children in Alabaster.

“That’s not a knock on the county schools. They aren’t picking on Alabaster,” Frings said. “They take money where they can get it, and they use it to fund 39 schools all over the county.”

Frings also addressed Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley’s June 9 signature of a controversial state immigration bill.

“I wish (the immigration issue) would be solved on the federal level. Something needs to be done on the federal level, even if the state law stands,” Frings said. “I’m not against anybody. The Alabaster police will never profile anybody or discriminate against anybody because of their race or nationality.”

Frings also encouraged those in attendance to work with police to cut down on drug use in all parts of the city.

“I wish I could say that in two or three years, we will be drug free. We won’t be drug free. We will never be drug free,” Frings said. “That’s not just problem here, it’s a problem everywhere.

“The only chance we have of beating it is if all the law-abiding citizens stand up and say ‘We are not going to tolerate it,’” he added. “If someone is dealing drugs in Alabaster. We want them in jail.”