‘Milestone’ moment as CCSD approves new consolidation plan

Published 7:07 pm Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Calling it a milestone moment, Chambers County School District Superintendent Casey Chambley announced Tuesday night that a new agreement had been reached for closing and consolidating schools as CCSD works to try to reach unitary status with the federal government.

Following a lengthy executive session that lasted over an hour, the school board voted on three resolutions, including rescinding the previous plan and approving the new one.

The most impactful part of the announcement might’ve been that LaFayette High School and Valley High School won’t merge immediately as previously planned. Under the previous agreement, those two schools would’ve merged in the 2022-2023 school year.

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However, Chambley said under the new agreement both schools will operate as they are now for the 2022-2023 school year. They would merge the next year into Valley High School’s campus under a new name, as long as construction is underway on a brand new high school by June 30, 2023.

“We today have reached a milestone in our county — a milestone that has taken us 52 years to reach — one that has consumed countless dollars and hours … from previous superintendents and boards to where we are today,” Chambley said. “Dealing with this issue is an issue of right and wrong and what’s right and wrong for all of our students in our district. Our board today has made the decision to move forward with this business to do what’s right by all students of Chambers County.”

The board also approved plans concerning school construction management.

Although LHS and VHS won’t merge immediately, other parts of the plan remain. At the start of the 2022-2023 school year, Five Points Elementary and JP Powell Middle School will relocate to the Eastside campus into a STEAM magnet program.

LaFayette Lanier will close and will merge into the existing Fairfax Elementary.

The plan will now go forward to the federal courts for approval.

Chambley said previously all of the consolidating is taking place due to three reasons — the desegregation order from the federal government that Chambers County has been working to meet for decades; the fact that only about 55% of their buildings are currently being used due to unlevel enrollment numbers across the district; and the fact that students at Valley High have more course offerings than LaFayette High students due to teacher units granted due to enrollment numbers.