Separation talks begin between Pelham, county schools

Pelham Interim School Superintendent Dr. Tim Alford speaks with about 60 Pelham residents during a Feb. 27 town hall meeting at the Pelham Civic Complex. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

Pelham Interim School Superintendent Dr. Tim Alford speaks with about 60 Pelham residents during a Feb. 27 town hall meeting at the Pelham Civic Complex. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

Pelham Board of Education and Shelby County Board of Education officials and attorneys have begun the process of negotiating Pelham’s separation from the county school system, according to Pelham’s Interim School Superintendent.

Pelham Interim School Superintendent Dr. Tim Alford gave about 60 Pelham residents an update on the school system’s status during a Feb. 27 “town hall” meeting at the Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena.

During the meeting, Alford said representatives from the two school boards held an “organizational meeting” earlier in the week, and said the two systems will begin meeting regularly to plan the split.

“No substantive decisions have been made,” Alford said, noting Pelham is “just about as anxious as anyone” to begin the separation negotiations. “We will meet again next week to set our meeting schedule.”

Part of the separation negotiations between the two entities will focus on the future of Pelham students currently zoned for Chelsea schools. Alford said the two systems are “trying to do something that is fair and equitable for the kids in both systems.”

Alford and some members of the Pelham School Board recently met with a group of Chelsea parents in a closed-door meeting. Alford said the discussions during the meeting were “cordial,” and said “we hopefully will have something about that (zoning situation) in the very near future.”

“That will be part of the negotiations with the county,” Alford said. “I can’t say anything definitive about that at this time.”

Alford also said the Pelham School Board has already filed the necessary documents to become a school system with the Alabama Department of Education, and is working to finalize its split from the county system by July 1.

The town hall meeting came three days after the Pelham School Board launched its search for a full-time superintendent, and voted to begin working with Burke Enterprises to develop a five-year strategic plan and goals for the upcoming city school system.