Superintendent: Helena students will still have school choice

Helena High School

Helena High School is set to open its doors for the 2014-2015 school year. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Pelham and Shelby County School System leaders said they will still allow Helena upperclassmen students to make a choice to attend Helena or Pelham schools after Pelham finalizes its separation from the Shelby County School System in the future.

SCBOE and Pelham officials said the issue will be included in the future separation agreements between the two entities, but leaders on both sides agreed Helena junior and senior students will have the option of attending Helena High School or Pelham High School after HHS opens its doors.

Currently, PHS serves students from Helena and Pelham, but Helena is set to open its new high school for the 2014-2015 school year.

“I couldn’t imagine any scenario where Helena upperclassmen wouldn’t be able to stay (at PHS) if they chose to do so,” Pelham City Council President Rick Hayes said.

“I’ve always said I will cheer for Helena High School once it’s open,” Hayes said. “They will always be a part of our community.”

Hayes previously said Pelham city schools would welcome “with open arms” Helena upperclassmen who wanted to graduate from PHS after the city’s separation.

During a Sept. 12 interview, Shelby County School Superintendent Randy Fuller said the county school system will support the school choice stance regardless of Pelham’s decision to split from the county school system.

“We have not changed that situation at all,” Fuller said. “We want the juniors and seniors to have that choice, and we want them to finish school successfully and go on to have bright futures.”

During a Sept. 9 meeting, the Pelham City Council voted to form a Pelham school board and move forward with forming a Pelham city school system.

During a Sept. 11 phone interview, Hayes said he was hesitant to put a timeline on the city’s separation from Shelby County Schools. Once a Pelham board of education is appointed, it will work with the Shelby County Board of Education to determine when the separation will be finalized, Hayes said.

“The separation will always take place on a July 1 date, regardless of the year,” Hayes said.