More answers on consolidation

on May 15, 2019

School system going about process the right way

The Chambers County School System held meetings in LaFayette and Valley last week to discuss the possible consolidation between LaFayette High School and Valley High School.

During those meetings, we received the answer to a couple of important questions — the cost and which time zone it would operate on. The cost of a new consolidated high school would have a price tag between $70 million and $80 million, according to Greg Ellis of HPM, a firm the school district hired to evaluate the possible consolidation.

If you think that’s a lot of money, consider that Ellis estimated it would cost around $98 million to renovate all elementary and middle schools in the district, several of which need some work. Under the consolidation plan, the current Valley and La-Fayette High Schools could be used as elementary and middle schools.

Another option is to renovate just the high schools at a cost of around $70 million, but the Chambers County Career Tech building would stay a separate building. Under the consolidation plan, the career tech center would be included at the new high school.

The study also determined that the new high school would operate on the central time zone since the geographical majority of the county is in that time zone.

Of course, it’s important to remember that nothing has been decided yet. Four possible locations were discussed during the meetings, but they were just general areas and not specific. At this point, there are still more questions than answers, but there should be.

Superintendent Kelli Hodge and the school board deserve a lot of credit for keeping the public involved in this process. The most recent update answered several important questions, and there will be more updates to come. No timeline is set for when a decision will be made about consolidation, and as much as everyone wants to know the final answer, that is probably the best approach to take. The school system should take its time, make sure it has all of the information, and then make this decision.

To its credit, that appears to be exactly what school system leaders are doing.

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