Compromise will lead to new school
by Jack Mcneely
Jul 07, 2013 | 902 views | 0 0 comments | 51 51 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jack Mcneely
Jack Mcneely
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When members of the Jasper City School Board meet in special session Tuesday morning to discuss the ongoing saga surrounding the construction of a new Walker High School, I encourage them to reach a compromise with the Jasper City Council.

Last fall, voters in the city of Jasper approved a 1-cent hike to the city’s sales tax. About 70 percent of that increase is earmarked for a new school to be constructed off East Viking Dr. across the street from the current campus. The new school is projected to cost around $60 million.

However, for the past few months wrangling between the two entities has delayed construction. And that’s a shame.

If the bickering continues, no one could blame a public outcry.

The primary issue at hand appears to be the school board’s unwillingness to give the city council — the project’s funding source — any oversight in the construction process.

“We’re not trying to build the school for them,” Jasper Mayor Sonny Posey said Friday. “We just want to have some oversight. We just don’t feel comfortable without another set of eyes on this project.”

Sounds reasonable to me.

One needs not look any farther than the recent school project in Hartselle to understand why our city council wants to be involved here.

Hartselle Mayor Don Hall told me Friday that he advised Mayor Posey to take a staunch stance in demanding some oversight to the Walker High project.

“My advice to Sonny was to find a way to work together or to hold back the money,” Hall said.

Like Jasper, Hartselle voters approved a 1-cent sales tax hike back in 2009 for the construction of a new school. The 250,000-square-foot facility cost roughly $44 million to build. But they face costly repairs to access roads only months after the new facility opened earlier this year, Hall noted.

Hall said he faced the same construction dilemma in Hartselle. Back then, attorneys for both the city and school board agreed that a school building project should be under state oversight, he said.

“Therefore, we took a hands-off approach,” Hall added. “And that was a mistake.”

Let’s not make the same mistake here. It’s time to build a new Walker High School.

Jack McNeely is publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle and can be contacted by phone at 205-221-2840 or via email at jack.mcneely@mountaineagle.com.