Pelham should consider all options

Published 12:11 pm Tuesday, June 25, 2013

After Alabaster successfully navigated the process of forming a city school system, we were not surprised to see Pelham officials considering the same.

There are many positives and negatives to starting a city school system, and we’re not here to offer a judgment on what Pelham should do.

However, we hope Pelham officials will move slowly and deliberately to make this decision. From Neal Wagner’s original story on the school system feasibility study, Pelham would likely need to consider a tax increase to support the school system, which could be a controversial move.

Pelham officials have also heard plenty of pushback — both from citizens and from their own colleagues.

In a public hearing held June 17, many Pelham residents currently zoned for Chelsea schools showed firm opposition to the move unless Pelham officials could guarantee they would still be able to send their children to Chelsea schools.

Pelham Mayor Gary Waters also said he is not in favor of Pelham forming its own school system.

“Right now, without a school system, we have $45 million worth of debt. I don’t want Pelham to live up to its credit rating, I want Pelham to live within its means,” Waters said at the hearing.

He also said the city is facing additional expenses in the future, such as updating infrastructure, including aging water pipes.

These are valid concerns, and we would urge the Pelham City Council to look at them closely before making a final decision. Creating a city school system is a long-term commitment, and Pelham officials should do everything in their power to ensure the city has the resources necessary to support that commitment.

Alabaster’s story has been a successful one, and we’re thrilled to see the new Alabaster system starting this fall. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the right move for every city. This might be the right move for Pelham right now, but it might not be. We hope city officials will look at all angles before deciding if this is indeed the time for Pelham schools to break away.

The We Say is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.