Lanett urged to join study

Published 5:09 pm Tuesday, January 15, 2019

LANETT — On Monday, the president of the Chambers County Development Authority board asked the Lanett Board of Education to be a partner in an ongoing school consolidation study. Bobby Williams, who’s also a former city manager in Lanett, said that he was approaching the city school board solely as a private citizen and that his views weren’t representative of any organization, public or private.

“My purpose for being here is to urge the board and superintendent to reconsider its decision, or maybe indecision, to participate in the high school consolidation study currently undertaken by the Chambers County Board of Education,” Williams said.

The ongoing study involves schools within the Chambers County District, primarily those in Valley and LaFayette. Lanett is an independent city school district within Chambers County.

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“Lanett has done a remarkable job in education in our city considering the resources and numbers you have had to work with, but therein lies the problem,” Williams said, “There is no way a high school with less than 250 students can offer the variety of programs so desperately needed in the highly-competitive environment facing our youth today. Lanett High is the third smallest high school in Alabama.”

Williams said he had been hesitant to address the board, given that he no longer had children in the system.

“Neither do most of you sitting around this table,” he said.

“However, we are the taxpayers and as such we expect our educational tax dollars to be used to provide our youth of this city and this county with the most efficient, the most effective and the most comprehensive education possible. You, as board members, have been chosen by your peers to fulfill those expectations.”

Williams said there was much statistical information pointing to the basic fact that there are problems with the quality of education being provided in Chambers County and Lanett.

“Time does not allow me to quote those statistics to you tonight, but I’m certain you have seen them,” he said.

“I’ll only mention a couple. In the latest Alabama Department of Education report card just recently released Lanett High School received a D. When I was in school, if I had brought home a D there would have been very serious repercussions.”

Williams called the education system “broken” in Lanett and Chambers County.

“I have two questions for you to ponder that, if honestly answered, will prove my point. Number one… how many times in the past ten years have you heard anyone say they were moving to Chambers County, including Lanett, because of the school systems?” Williams said. “If your answer is higher than zero you have some information I don’t have. On the other hand, how many families do you know in the past ten years have moved out of Chambers County looking for a better school system? I know several.”

Williams made the case that the county’s continual population decline is linked to the quality of public education being offered here.

The board made no comment afterward.