Story by David Owen with Chambers County Board Of Education
LaFayette, Ala.– On Wednesday, Chambers County Board of Education voted to move forward with a comprehensive facilities restructuring plan. The plan will result in the consolidation, closing, and repurposing of some district facilities. The implementation of the plan will be handled in multiple phases; however, the plan is contingent upon approval from federal courts.
The plan was created with input from a local task force of community stakeholders. The task force was challenged to best determine a path forward that optimized educational outcomes for all students. Over the last three months, the school system held a series of meetings, community town halls, and launched a community survey to collect the public’s input on a variety of options, ultimately deciding on a plan that best represented the entire district. The results of the input informed the board that in order to maximize savings for the district, some schools should merge and others should be repurposed to better serve the community in the 21st Century.
The plan details that some elementary schools should merge in the future; however, effective SY 22/23 J.P. Powell and Five Points will merge to become the Eastside Campus. Proposed future plans include:
1. Merging J.P. Powell Middle, Eastside, and Five Points Elementary School - they will be combined to form the Lafayette PK-8 District-wide STEAM Academy.
2. Merging Shawmut with Lafayette Lanier to form Huguley and Fairfax PK-5.
The proposed construction of these sites will begin after the new high school is completed.
The high school consolidation and restructuring plan will consist of renovating and repurposing the existing Lafayette High School, which will close in SY 22/23, into a Pre-K–8 (STEAM); with planning and construction starting in the Summer of 2022. Lafayette High School students will merge with Valley High School. The merged high schools will operate under a new name, color scheme, and mascot. All high school students will remain at that campus until the new high school is constructed. Lastly, the district will break ground on a new campus for the high school in SY 24/25. Construction is anticipated to last between 24-30 months.
“I’m excited that we have a chance to move our school system forward,” said Casey Chambley, Chambers County School Superintendent. “Our number one goal is to ensure that every single child in Chambers County receives the best education possible.”
This option was one of several presented to the board and is expected to result in an operational cost savings of approximately $2 million dollars a year after all mergers are complete.