Frazier recommends pushing forward with Anniston city school plan
by Patrick McCreless
pmccreless@annistonstar.com
Nov 15, 2013 | 3717 views |  0 comments | 72 72 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cobb Elementary. Photo by Stephen Gross.
Cobb Elementary. Photo by Stephen Gross.
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Anniston schools Superintendent Joan Frazier has recommended the school board begin working to close Cobb Elementary as part of its system reorganization plan.

During a board work session Thursday in which no decision was made, Frazier recommended the board start the process to close and repurpose Cobb next year due in part to its shrinking student body. Frazier also told the board that by the end of the month, it could learn what the Anniston City Council is willing to offer to buy the Anniston Middle School. Selling the middle school and repurposing Cobb for seventh- and eighth-graders are both parts of the board's system reorganization plan approved in May.

"I'm not talking about augmenting the plan," Frazier said about the Cobb recommendation. "I'm talking about just starting to move forward with it."

Frazier said she spoke with Mayor Vaughn Stewart earlier Thursday and was told the board should learn what the city is willing to offer for the middle school within two-and-a-half weeks.

The board wants to close the middle school due to the city's interest in using the property for possible retail development. The city expects the spot will be prime for business growth once nearby Veterans Memorial Parkway is completed and can bring more motorists to the area. The board's plan is to convert Cobb into a junior high school and send sixth-graders to the remaining four elementary schools.

Frazier said Cobb has just 118 students, has steadily lost students in recent years and could lose more students next year. Frazier said the school could have fewer than 100 students next year, meaning it would not be cost-effective for the school to remain open.

"No one wants to have to close a school, but with just 118 students, you just can't justify it remaining open," said board member Mary Klinefelter.

Also during the work session, board president Donna Ross gave the board a short update on the search for a superintendent to succeed Frazier, who has announced she’ll retire at the end of the school year. The board hired Illinois-based firm BWP and Associates to manage the superintendent search, which began Oct. 4.

"We have 28 candidate files in various states of completion," Ross said.

On Dec. 5, the firm will recommend a selection of the most-qualified candidates to the board. Afterward, the board will conduct interviews of those candidates through Jan. 9.

At the end of the work session, the board agreed to decide on a firm to create a strategic plan for the school system at its next regular meeting. The board has interviewed several firms this year.

The board also heard an offer from representatives of the staffing company Kelly Services to possibly take over management and hiring of substitute teachers for the school system.

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.
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