PCS BOE to explore possibility of purchasing land for new school

Published 11:16 am Tuesday, June 29, 2021

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By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer 

PELHAM – The Pelham City Schools Board of Education unanimously voted for a resolution that would have it explore the option of purchasing a large parcel of land for a future school site.

Superintendent Dr. Scott Coefield said while there is not an immediate concern for the system’s ability to properly house the city’s students, it is important to look ahead and plan for a time when expansion is necessary.

“The Board’s only current objective is to secure property so that Pelham is positioned for future success. There is not an immediate and urgent need for a new school but enrollment trends, growth in the city, and facility assessments indicate that at some point in the future a new school will be needed,” Coefield said. “We have a plan for the future. Land is hard to come by and if you wait until all of the land and possibilities diminish then it is a lot harder to make those plans.”

This resolution does not dictate a new school will be built, what grades would be housed there or any kind of timeframe for construction.

However, it does provide framework for the school system to explore construction of a new school and suggestions for where the Board would like to purchase land,” Coefield said.

“We felt it was the right time. We have been talking to landowners and it is time to start exploring costs and preparing for when we start having conversations about what kind of school we want to have.

“We recognize that we expect continued growth along the Highway 11 corridor and Ballantrae development, and recognize that because we only have one school east of Interstate 65 and three schools west of Interstate 65, the Board desires the future land site to be east of Interstate 65,” according to the resolution.

The Board also suggested the potential development might be best suited as either a replacement for the current high school or a second high school facility, though no determination has been made as of now.

Factors cited in this decision include the school system enrollment which has grown by 12 percent since 2016. As a result of strategic discussion on this topic, the board decided it was time to discuss plans for expansion.

“It’s important to do this in a timely manner because so much residential development is taking place in Pelham, and it’s important we secure land for future boards,” said Board President Angie Hester.

Coefield said the board has been very forward thinking on this issue and anticipates they will make the right decisions when the time comes.

“I think it is very important for our community to know our school board is working diligently for them,” Coefield said. ” I am appreciative that they have acknowledged there is a future with potential out there.”