On that point, most Annistonians can agree.
Yet, the Anniston Board of Education is nine months into its reorganization talks but has not voted on a proposal. The Sept. 6 deadline the board set for itself this week is a step in the right direction, if only for it forces board members to make a decision.
But even that deadline adds to the awkwardness. The Sept. 6 deadline falls after the beginning of the school year and after the Aug. 28 municipal elections,
which could affect the elected board’s membership for the upcoming term, not to mention the makup of the City Council.
In that regard, that’s the strongest argument for why we wish the board had already presented its reorganization plans to the city. This isn’t a new topic, and getting it squared away before the municipal elections would have been our strong preference.
That ship’s sailed, of course. So now the focus is on the heart of this task: What is best for Anniston and its seven public schools? Anything else is wasted effort.
Our stance hasn’t changed: The middle school property on Alabama 21 adjacent to McClellan is too valuable to Anniston for it to remain a campus site. The best option is for the city to buy that property and the board to make arrangements for middle-school students at one of the system’s other campuses.
In that sense, Anniston is fortunate that it has several options to consider — though all of them require serious money for the building of a new middle school or renovating an existing elementary school for older students.
It’s unfortunate that frustration from some board members at Tuesday’s BOE work session bubbled into public view — though, quite frankly, we understand that dissatisfaction. The process, though promising, has been laborious.
As board member William Hutchings said, “We need to do something. We just keep talking, and talking.” Another board member, Arthur Cottingham, said it’s time the BOE present City Hall with its proposal so it “can say whether that’s doable or not.”
Meanwhile, Bill Robison, who has pushed for additional information and details about any potential move, was wise to boil down the topic to its main point — the students. They are the reason the system exists in the first place. “I think we’ve got to decide what we think is the best academic setting for these kids,” Robison said. Then the board can “decide on that and then ask how much that’s going to cost.”
Count us among those who wish this was a task already completed. That Sept. 6 deadline is still more than a month away. Between now and then, perhaps the best move is to remember Robison’s admonition: What is the best academic setting for these kids?