Is consolidation the right move?; Getting community input the right way to make decision

Published 5:17 pm Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Over the last few weeks, the Chambers County School District has discussed a potential consolidation of LaFayette High School and Valley High School.

The school district hired Cooperative Strategies to create a survey intended to gather information from the community and held community meetings to go over the results. Overall, the community appears fairly split on whether or not consolidation is a good idea.

Forty percent of respondents said they were against consolidation; 37 percent were in favor of consolidation and 23 percent needed more information.

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There are many questions that still need to be answered. The most obvious question is how the new school would be paid for. Not surprisingly, most of the survey respondents voted against the idea of property and income tax increases.

If the funding is found, the community appears to have several opinions on where the new school should be located.

Forty-two percent of people surveyed said they would prefer a new site between the two schools and 34 percent voted for a site that would be located close to the center of the student population.

Other questions still to be answered include what would happen to the old school buildings and whether Lanett High School — a part of the Lanett City School System — could be involved in the consolidation.

At this point, it’s not even clear what time zone the new school would operate in. That’s not a problem many school systems have to deal with, but when you sit so close to the Georgia-Alabama line, it comes with the territory. 

Our point is — there are a lot of questions still left unanswered.

The school system has made it clear that it doesn’t have all of those answers and is working to collect community input before making a decision. That’s the right way to go about this possibility, and it doesn’t appear there is a definite timetable on when the decision has to be made.

Although some in the community argue that a final decision has already been made, the school system has rightfully given stakeholders the right to have their opinions be known. 

That’s an important and necessary step.

As the feedback comes in, we encourage the school system to appropriately vet each of these ideas and concerns. There are going to be strong reasons for and against consolidation, some that have already been discussed.

Careful consideration of each scenario and what they will each mean going forward is so important. The future of Chambers County’s children is at stake, and they will be affected by the final decision, whether that’s consolidating or not consolidating.