Greenville mayor against city school system

GREENVILLE, AL (WSFA) - Greenville's Mayor is casting a "no" vote in the debate over whether the city should start a school system.

He presented the findings from a recent feasibility study to a crowd at Wallace Community College. With improving education top of mind, he says there's one way to make it happen without splitting the systems.

"If we can't work together then I'll be the first one to say maybe we need a city school system," Mayor Dexter McClendon says.

Despite research proving it wouldn't break the bank, McClendon believes improving Butler County's education is all about attitude.

"Let's be positive. Let's figure out what we gotta do to get our expectations where they need to be."

With hundreds in attendance, he and others broke down the numbers.

It would cost the city roughly $5.5 million dollars to start a school system and about $18.5 million a year to maintain it.

Much of the funding would simply shift from the county coffers to the city's.

"I call it a waste of taxpayer money is what I call it," says Butler County Superintendent Darren Douthitt.

He agrees with the mayor saying there's no need for Greenville to create its own district right now.

If Mayor McClendon wants officials to work together more?

"I'm 24/7. I make house calls even. I'm willing to meet with anyone who has any rational thought or any logic about how we can improve on what we do," says Douthitt.

"What we're looking for is a commitment from the community to try and have the best school system we can," says parent, Jeremy Coleman.

He's anxious to see the feasibility study's final outcome. His kids are in private school, but he's willing to change that.

"As a graduate of the county school system, I think that certainly good education happens there. And if that's the best opportunity for my children I think that that would be a good thing for them as well."

"I hope it's a wake-up call for everybody that's viewing this that education is important," adds McClendon.

Butler County leaders say money is the key to getting more resources for education. Douthitt says Butler County ranks 122nd out of 132 school districts when it comes to local funding.

But McClendon believes Hyundai suppliers will be adding more jobs soon, which could bring more sales tax revenue there.

Greenville leaders started an economic development committee to discuss ways to bring more jobs to Butler County.

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