Montgomery, AL (WSFA) - The Montgomery County School Board has made building a new high school on the east side of the city its top priority. The city and county have agreed, in principal, to support the project, which Board Member Melissa Snowden says is critical for the project to begin.
Plans for the new high school suffered a setback Monday when the county commission failed to make its contribution. Officials instead decided to carry over the funding proposal.
Commissioner Reed Ingram wants more information about the school's zoning and its exact location. "The board of education's budget is over three times bigger than ours. If we spend money to do a high school, I want to make sure it's done correctly," he explained.
Snowden says time is running out. "We had planned to vote on the 23rd of this month to accept the qscb-money." That's a loan the school system would use to pay for construction. The school board needs money from the city and county to make payments on the construction loan. The city is on board, but the deal won't work without county money.
"We have got to build an east high school. We are losing students. If we can keep those students in our system, that means more money," said Snowden.
The county commissioners say they want to help fund the new school; they just want some answers first. "We need a high school out east, but we need to make sure this is the right thing and the zoning is right or it's not going to work. If it doesn't work, there is no need to keep throwing money out there, " added Ingram.
The county commission meets again March 28th. Snowden hopes they'll call a special meeting to consider the funding before then. Ingram says it's a possibility, but only if questions are answered to their satisfaction.
MPS is looking for about 60 acres for the high school campus, preferably near Taylor Road, Interstate 85, or 231 South. They have five possible locations, but aren't saying where.
The commission and the school board both have admittedly strained budgets. The Montgomery County School System recently announced the closure or consolidation of 8 schools. The system also faces a $9 million budget deficit and proration.