Hitting the brakes: CCSD halts consolidation decisions until new administration takes over

Published 9:24 pm Thursday, March 21, 2024

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During Wednesday’s meeting, the CCSD board went into executive session to discuss the litigation on the consolidated school. Afterward, the superintendent gave a recommendation to put a pause on decision-making for consolidation until the new administration takes office in January 2025, which the board approved unanimously.

“If I were going to be the new superintendent coming in, I would want to have some input about big decisions like that,” said Dr. Casey Chambley, Chambers County School superintendent, on the recent board vote to pause the consolidation process.

“We did not feel like, and I personally don’t feel like, it’s appropriate for myself as the outgoing superintendent to bond and put the school under that type of debt when I’m not going to be the person that has to pay it back without the incoming administration having some say and some input into the situation.”

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Chambley lost the Republican primary to opponent Dr. Sharon Weldon on March 5. District 1 Board member Jeffrey Finch also lost the democratic primary to Reco Newton. 

Since the community voted out both, Chambley said he and the board felt they should pause making decisions on the bond.

“The election was very evident and clear as to some things that the public was not happy with,” Chambley said.

In 2023, Judge Keith Watkins released his order, ordering the CCSD to continue with the construction of the new high school at the Valley location. 

The board was also ordered to provide progress updates every 90 days. 

During the recent primary campaign, Chambley repeatedly said the school district needed to move forward. But he said the feedback during the election suggested that there were misgivings about the school board affording the project. The board’s vote to pause all business will include the bond process. 

Chambley also said being in “a lame duck period” may have an impact on the bond market, which looks at stability and consistency.

“No bonds have been sold. So it will be up to the incoming administration to go forward with that bond process and how they want to move forward with that and the amount of which they move forward with,” Chambley said.

This means that Chambley’s anticipated opening date for the new high school, fall of 2026, will also likely be delayed. 

There are still nine months before the general election and a new superintendent will come into office.

“I’m looking forward to the possibility of leading this project under my leadership but am concerned that the delay will be costly in terms of decisions that have already been made and resources and services that have been purchased,” Weldon said in a statement to the VTN. 

Whereas, Dr. Winford Ashmore, the democratic candidate, said the decision was for the best. 

“That was the best decision that the board could have made,” Ashmore said. “… Since you have an administration going out, you just never know if they may make decisions now that they wouldn’t normally make if they had been reelected.”

At this point, Chambley said he is focusing on getting students ready for end-of-year assessments and recruiting teachers for the upcoming school year. He also said progress for the J.P. Powell Eastside STEAM Magnet School will continue.