By Gary Lloyd
The Trussville City Board of Education hopes to be closer to a decision about where a new elementary school — or two community schools — will be located when it holds its work session May 6 at 4 p.m.
The school board discussed the possibility of a new elementary school for about two hours last Wednesday at its board retreat.
Trussville City Schools Superintendent Pattie Neill said the board should be “prepared to come closer to a final decision on the location by process of elimination of options.”
The Pop Stone Circle land area, proposed as a possible site earlier this month by Mayor Gene Melton, is now off the table because the school board nor the city own the land, and there is no sewer system or access at this point. Renovating the old Hewitt-Trussville middle and high school on Parkway Drive in the Cahaba Project is also off the table. Neill said the old school is a “sick building” that is not safe for children. She said if you walk through the building without a mask, you will likely get sick.
Neill said there have been a “groundswell” of options proposed by community members.
“Whatever we do, I don’t want to divide the city,” said school board member Danny Garrett, who projected “robust” growth to be about another 600 students enrolling system-wide in Trussville schools over the next 10 years.
Neill mainly discussed the possibility of building two elementary schools, one near the Magnolia Place neighborhood and another at the former Hewitt-Trussville middle and high school.
The two Paine schools currently house 1,812 students despite a two-school capacity of 1,559. There are five portable classrooms on the Paine Primary School site and eight on Paine Intermediate School’s site.
School board member Gayle Glenn presented a plan for two community schools, one at the former middle and high school, the other near Magnolia Place. She said the former middle and high school could house 410 students and the Magnolia Place site could house 388 students. Glenn, a former vice principal at Hewitt Elementary and principal at Snow Rogers Elementary in Gardendale, said students are better served in smaller schools.
Many Cahaba Project residents want a school at the old middle and high school site because it is in the heart of Trussville.
Trussville City Councilman Alan Taylor suggested the possibility of building just one smaller school for now as a master plan for the city comes together and revisit building another at a later time.
In other board retreat news, Paine Primary School Principal Betsy Schmitt said the school’s process of enlisting parents and grandparents to help monitor who comes in the front doors has “worked great.” These volunteers have opened the locked front doors and taken up driver’s licenses of visitors in an attempt to add safety measures.
Hewitt-Trussville High School Principal Tim Salem said five students — Gavin Slay, Connor Staggs, Jennie Tanner, William Waldrep and Sean Williamson — have been named National Merit Scholar semifinalists. They find out this summer who are winners
. Salem also said the school will attempt to “resurrect” the school newspaper beginning next school year.
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.