In favor of Pelham city schools

Published 11:48 am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Dear Editor,

During summers, I spend more time as a mom, reader, writer, student and community servant. However, I’m always a teacher responding to my students’ texts, emails and questions. The question of the summer is whether or not Pelham should form its own school system.

Entering last Monday night’s Pelham City Council meeting, I found a sea of Chelsea blue. Parents of kids living in Pelham’s City limits, but living closer to Chelsea schools, were brimming with passion. Hearing them cheer about being de-annexed from Pelham because they so vehemently oppose their children attending Pelham schools was painful.

After discovering that the council and Mayor Waters supported keeping their children in Chelsea schools, these parents seemed ready to seek answers from the Shelby County Board of Education. The Chelsea parents left and Pelham residents were asking what teachers wanted. One parent asked for—and received assurance from the City Council—that teachers would still receive their pensions and insurance. No teachers spoke.

Don’t teachers want well-maintained facilities and to have class sizes small enough that students are better served? Instead of competing with so many schools for limited resources, why not have a local school board with a manageable job?

One parent involved in the separation of Madison City Schools from Madison County Schools said, “We knew that the county system had needs of its own . . . and there was no way they were going to get to us in time before it became a crisis situation out here.”

With facilities in disrepair, Pelham’s schools are being labeled inferior—even though our students and teachers are winning academic, artistic and athletic championships and awards. A realtor reported at Monday’s meeting that Pike Road home prices have risen 22 percent since their city system formed earlier this year. Money matters. Kids matter more.

Dr. Tim Elmore spoke recently about moving from good to great in education. He said, “Recognize the need for change before decline. Friendly fire will come your way. Make the change.”

Shelby County Schools are good. Pelham City Schools could be great. Why not aim for great?

Connie Nolen