The Alexandria community will likely keep its three schools, due in part to the student enrollment being the highest of the school groupings in the Calhoun County school system. Only one Alexandria grade would need to be moved.
On Wednesday evening, members of the Calhoun County Board of Education and the Alexandria residents listened to Superintendent José Reyes’ presentation about the status of the Alexandria schools. The meeting was the third in a series of community meetings; no dates have been set yet for Ohatchee, Wellborn, Pleasant Valley or Weaver schools.
Thus far, Reyes has visited the communities of White Plains, Saks and Alexandria.
In a neighborhood meeting for White Plains parents, students and residents, Calhoun County Schools Superintendent Jose Reyes told them they would have a voice in their schools’ future.
The reasons for the meetings are to inform the parents, the staff members of each school and interested residents about the effects of the loss of income local systems receive, given that the student population is declining. Also, an earlier rise in the inflation rate has raised the cost of the building of new facilities to $400 a square foot; the cost of maintaining existing buildings has risen as well.
Those present Wednesday learned two things regarding Alexandria schools. The first is that the only suggested change down the road is that the fourth-grade students in the elementary school might need to move up to the new middle school that opened in 2017.
The numbers at Alexandria Elementary School have grown and space is getting tight while at the same time numbers at Alexandria Middle School are dropping. This is a trend that has been documented since the opening of the middle school and school leaders will continue to monitor the trends.
Also, the need for a new high school is growing.
“At some point, a new high school will have to be built,” Reyes said. “This certainly is a decade or more down the road and well beyond my time here but will be something that future leaders will have to contemplate. What we are attempting to do is lay the groundwork by providing accurate information so that the public can be well informed.”
The student population in Alexandria has been overall consistent over the past twenty-five plus years, as the number of students in 1997-98 was 1,591 with current 2022-23 student numbers at 1,643.
The Alexandria schools remain the largest student population in the county with about 350 more total students than the next largest community.
The board plans to consider a vote on the potential changes within a few months so preparations can be made for the 2023-’24 school year if necessary. The discussions at each community are taking place with opportunities of input from community members and to provide accurate school data.
Staff Writer Sherry Kughn: 256-236-1551.