TALLADEGA, Ala. (WIAT) — The Talladega City School District will soon have to make some difficult decisions that could involve staff layoffs and school consolidations, leaders said this week.
Parents are invited to learn more at a school board meeting next Tuesday.
According to superintendent Dr. Quentin Lee, the troubles stem from a drop in enrollment.
“Since 2010 to 2022, we’ve lost almost 1,000 students. So as you lost those students, you lose the appropriation of funds you receive for those students,” said Lee, who is in his first year as the district’s leader.
Lee has been discussing options with parents in a series of meetings. All of them are likely to require a reduction in staff. There are several options for board members to consider before the end of February.
The district is home to four elementary schools, one junior high school, and one high school. The proposed changes would impact the elementary schools.
Plan A, Lee said would be to do nothing, but he cautioned such a decision would likely come with the loss of between 12 and 20 employees.
“I think it would be very detrimental to the boys and girls of Talladega City Schools. Meaning that we will have many overcrowded classrooms. The resources that we can provide for our students would just, it would be lessened because we would have to reduce the amount of funding,” said Lee.
Plan B-A, as Lee called it, would close Graham and Young Elementary Schools and merge students into Salter and Houston Elementary Schools. Two pre-k programs would be closed. Under plan ‘B-A’, Lee anticipated the district could lose between 8 and 15 employees.
Plan B-B, Lee said, would close Salter Elementary School and merge the children into Young and Graham Elementary Schools. Only one pre-k program would be closed, but between 10 and 16 staff members would likely lose their job. Plan B-B would also leave an unused gymnasium that the district is currently paying for.
Plan C would involve reorganizing all of the elementary schools and keep children of similar age in the same building. It would cause a staff reduction between 5 and 8, Lee said.
Under Plan C:
Young Elementary would be reorganized for Pre-K and Kindergarten students.
Salter Elementary would be reorganized for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade students.
Houston Elementary would be reorganized for 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students.
Plan D would rezone all elementary schools to reduce the number of students at Houston, the district’s largest elementary school. Lee estimated that between 8 and 14 employees would lose their job.
If school buildings are closed, the district could consider turning one into a central office or sell the property. Lee said the buildings are very old, but have a rich history.
“A lot of people, we’re attached to the buildings, we are attached to the traditions they bring, however we have to make sure we are attached to the students that are inside these buildings because that’s the most important element,” said Lee.
CBS 42 spoke to one parent who is in favor of Plan C.
“I have two children, one is a third grader at Young and I have a sophomore at TCS,” said Katie Campbell.
Campbell said she would hate for her son to not be able to finish at Young Elementary, but considering the options, feels it would be in the district’s best interest to keep students of the same age together.
“I think it limits the number of transitions for the students, which is hard to do. It is really hard just to go from the elementary school to the junior high and so now adding two more transitions, it’s really scary from that point and I’m really worried about the continuity of the PTOs and the engagement of parents to help their children move from school to school,” said Campbell.
Campbell said she trusts the board will make the best decision for the future of the district. Leaders have said they hope to be able to build a new school in the future, but need to be in a better financial position.
“Change is inevitable and we have to do it and we want to do the best way going forward,” said Campbell.
Parents are invited to share public comments during the meeting on February 15 at 5 p.m. at the Talladega Board of Education’s chambers.
The school board is expected to make a final decision during a meeting on February 21 at 5 p.m.
More information from Lee’s presentation can be found here.