Pelham BOE approves separation agreement

The Pelham BOE approved a separation agreement with the Shelby County School System during a June 5 meeting.

The Pelham BOE approved a separation agreement with the Shelby County School System during a June 5 meeting.

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—The Pelham Board of Education approved a separation agreement during a June 5 meeting, officially separating Pelham City Schools from the Shelby County School System.

Whit Colvin of Bishop, Colvin, Johnson and Kent law firm explained the “high points” of the more than 50-page separation agreement.

“The transfer date is July 1,” Colvin said, explaining the schools in Pelham, save for the Linda Nolen Learning Center, will come under the direction of the Pelham BOE on that date.

Also on July 1, faculty employed at Pelham schools will stay at Pelham Schools under the employment of the Pelham City School System.

Students enrolled in Pelham schools, including 27 students from unincorporated Shelby County, will be transferred over to the Pelham City School System.

Colvin also addressed attendance zoning regarding Pelham students attending Chelsea and Oak Mountain schools.

“The general rule is if you live within the city, you go to Pelham City Schools,” he said.

However, under the separation agreement, Pelham students who attended Chelsea or Oak Mountain schools during the 2013-2014 academic year and those starting at those schools for the 2014-2015 academic year may continue there through graduation.

Pelham students attending Alabaster schools may continue there according to the separation agreement between the Alabaster City Schools and the Shelby County Board of Education.

Additionally, Pelham students enrolled at the Shelby County College and Career Center and those planning to enroll for the 2014-2015 academic year may continue there, although Colvin noted there is “a cost to the board, not to the parents.”

Finally, Pelham students requiring the LNLC may be enrolled or continue there.

Pelham BOE President Rick Rhoades recognized and thanked the Shelby County Board of Education during the June 4 meeting for their “willingness to work with and create an agreement that really takes care of the children.

The separation agreement has come in time for the Pelham City School System to meet the state-mandated July 1 separation date. Had this deadline not been met, the school system would have to wait until July 1, 2015 to separate.

“(The separation agreement) gives us a chance to do what we wanted to do, which is create a world-class school system,” Rhoades said.

The final agreement is the result of a long separation process that started when the Pelham City Council voted to separate from the Shelby County School System and form a five-member Board of Education during a September 9 meeting.

On Dec. 26, the BOE hired Birmingham-based law firm Bishop Colvin Johnson and Kent to represent the new school system in separation negotiations with the Shelby County School System, which began the week of Feb. 24.

“We misrepresented the time and work that was required,” Pelham BOE Vice President Paul Howell said thanking the members of the BOE, former Interim Superintendent Dr. Tim Alford, education consultant Dr. Suzanne Freeman and Chief School Financial Officer Lauren Butts. “Thank you all for making this moment tonight possible.”

While negotiating terms of separation, the BOE continued to make key decisions readying the Pelham City School System for the July 1 separation deadline and the 2014-2015 academic year.

The BOE hired Dr. Scott Coefield as superintendent during an April 22 special-called meeting, chose HOAR Program Management to handle future construction projects during a May 12 meeting and hired five key administrative positions during a May 27 meeting.

The BOE will continue to hire staff members and prepare school facilities for the Aug. 7 start of the 2014-2015 academic year.

“A dream became talk, talk became a reality,” Rhoades said of the process of creating the Pelham City School System. “We’ve ben guided by only one principal: do what is best for our community and what is best for our young people.”