BOE: Empty school buildings in Parrish, Sipsey, Dora turned over to communities
by Briana Webster
Jul 11, 2014 | 4472 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Walker County Board of Education Superintendent Jason Adkins was “ecstatic” during Thursday’s meeting due in part to the good news he received from Parrish Mayor Cedric Ramsey.

The decision to close T.S. Boyd, Sipsey and Parrish High schools was made in April, leaving the fate of the three empty buildings in the hands of the school board. Adkins said from the beginning that he would like to see the vacant buildings transferred over to the communities each school served, but other timely decisions would be made if those cities’ representatives didn’t come forward showing interest in the county school system’s properties.

“I spoke with (Dora) councilman Hezikiah Walker and Mayor Randy Stephens, and I wanted to make sure that the school was able to represent the community that it existed in for all those years, that being Yerkwood,” Adkins said after the meeting. “There was a little bit of conflict early on, but they got past personal agendas and things of that nature and worked together. They were the first to put together a really neat proposal to work together as a community and the city of Dora to move forward with acquiring that facility for their youth.” 

Then, Adkins spoke briefly about the plans representatives in Sipsey had brought forward during their discussions — applying for 21st Century grants. He said 21st Century offers $250,000 grants for after-school programs that would be held in the empty Sipsey school and, hopefully, if the city receives those grants, the county school system would be able to bus students to those programs.

With two schools obtained by their respective communities, that left the town of Parrish to make a decision before the offer was taken off the table. During Thursday’s meeting, board chairman Brad Ingle recognized Ramsey and asked him to speak on behalf of his town in regards to the school property.

“On behalf of our town, we do appreciate the opportunity to receive the high school. Me and a couple of guys talked about us receiving the school and about some of the things that were said right after the school had closed,” Ramsey said. “We were told that they were going to take everything out of the school, strip it down, take the air units, everything, basically, that they could use out of the school. At that point after we heard that, we weren’t interested in having the school.

“Now that I’ve talked with Dr. Adkins and he explained to us that they would leave most of the stuff in the school so that it would be operational for us because it would definitely be a burden if they took everything out of the school, especially in the lunchroom, and tried to give it to the town because we probably wouldn’t take all that responsibility,” he continued, “but by leaving it and leaving it in an operational state, then I think the town can benefit from getting the school.”

After some time, debates and discussions, all three communities will now be able to obtain those buildings and use them for the towns’ youth and other community-related events.

“I reached out to Cedric, and he had a misconception as to what status the building would be left in, as he communicated tonight. Once he got that rectified in his mind he was able to understand that it would be a tremendous benefit to the town,” Adkins said. “It took about 15 minutes ... to come up and realize that it would be a good resource for their community as well. So, all three schools went to all three communities as we had hoped and dreamed that they would, and that’s the best case scenario because the last thing we wanted to happen was to have three dilapidated facilities right in the heart of all three towns. So, we’re ecstatic about that too.”

In other business, the board: 

•approved the minutes from the May 15, May 21 and June 12 meetings.

•approved the 2014-2015 salary schedule.

•approved the personnel lists, which included a regular list (with leaves and resignations), professional list, support list, professional transfer list and support transfer list.

•approved CNP bids for ice cream, milk and chemicals.

•approved CNP AL-A-Cart prices.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting will be Aug. 14 at 4:30 p.m.