Educators pack meeting on Alabaster school district

Published 9:24 pm Thursday, July 28, 2011

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

More than 100 people, most of whom were educators, packed the Alabaster Senior Center July 28 during a standing-room only public input meeting on a proposed Alabaster city school district.

During the meeting, members of the Alabaster City Council’s education committee shared their goals on the school district, and several speakers voiced their opinions on the proposal.

Alabaster officials are awaiting the results of a city school district feasibility study, which is scheduled to be completed in late August or early September, said Councilman and committee member Scott Brakefield.

Once the study is in, Brakefield said the committee will hold several more public meetings on the matter before the City Council decides if it wants the city to break away from the Shelby County School District.

“This is one of the most important decisions Alabaster is going to make for a long time, and we need to get feedback from everyone,” Brakefield said.

During the meeting, some speakers said the city has not adequately notified Alabaster residents of the school district public input meetings, and said city officials should advertise the meetings more in the future.

“The thing that bothers me the most is the thought process that the city is trying to do all this in secret,” Brakefield said. “It hurts me to think that perception is out there.

“We feel like we are doing the absolute best we can (to advertise the meetings),” he added. “We are just not set up to send an email to all city residents.”

If the city does form its own school district, the first city schools superintendent and school board likely will be appointed by the City Council. The city school board would likely then decide if future superintendents and board members will be elected or appointed.

At least two speakers urged the committee to make all city school board positions elected, and said it should be a “community decision, not a council decision.”

“I’ve seen bad elected boards and I’ve seen bad appointed boards,” said Councilman Adam Moseley, who is also a member of the education committee. “It comes down to what is best for our community. That’s how I’m going to make my decision.”

Several teachers from Alabaster’s schools also asked if they would keep their jobs if the city forms is own district, and asked if Alabaster students would still be able to attend the county district’s Linda Nolen Learning Center, which serves special-needs children, and School of Technology.

Alabaster Mayor David Frings said state law would allow all current teachers in Alabaster to continue working at their schools or request a transfer to another county school.

Brakefield said the results of the feasibility study will likely determine if Alabaster would house its own special-needs and technical programs, or if it would look to contract with the county district for those services.

If the city forms its own school district, it will take ownership of all schools in the city’s limits, including the Shelby County Instructional Services Center off U.S. 31. The city would also have to decide if it will allow students who live outside city limits but are currently zoned for Alabaster schools to continue attending Alabaster schools.