Dothan City Schools looks to downsize

DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - Dothan City Schools' Superintendent, Dr. Phyllis Edwards, presented four school consolidation proposals to the board and school personnel during a work session Thursday afternoon.

Dr. Edwards says she's worked with consultants since she was hired at the beginning of the year to look at ways to consolidate the system and save money.

Consultants looked at things like school enrollment, racial disparities between schools, and physical locations in deciding which schools would be on the chopping block. Research found that many of the elementary schools and middle schools were operating below capacity and to save money the system would need to downsize.

Each consolidation proposal includes different schools. Noticeably missing from all proposals are Cloverdale, Faine, and Grandview Elementary. In all proposals, Honeysuckle Middle School is listed as the potential new Pre- Kindergarten and Central Office location.

Scenario 1: 

  • Six schools would close : Cloverdale, Grandview, Faine, Honeysuckle, Heard and Montana Street
  • Four schools would combine: Beverlye/Hidden Lake and Girard Elementary/Girard Middle
  • There would be seven schools for kindergarten - 7th grade: Selma Street, Beverlye/Hidden Lake, Carver, Girard Elem/Girard MS, Kelly Springs, Slingluff, Highlands
  • Dothan High School would be for 8th and 9th graders
  • Northview High School would be for 10th - 12th graders

Scenario 2: 

  • Five schools would close: Cloverdale, Grandview, Faine, Honeysuckle, and Montana Street,
  • Four schools would combine: Beverlye/Hidden Lake and Girard Elementary/Girard Middle.
  • There would be eight schools for kindergarten through 8th grade: Girard Elem/Girard MS, Beverlye/Hidden Lake, Selma Street, Heard, Highlands, Kelly Springs, Slingluff, and Carver.
  • Dothan and Northview would remain 9th - 12th

Scenario 3: 

  • Five schools would close: Cloverdale, Grandview, Faine, Heard, and Honeysuckle
  • There would be eight elementary schools: Montana Street, Girard Elem., Hidden Lake, Highlands, Kelly Springs, Slingluff, Selma Street, and Carver
  • There would be two middle schools: Beverlye and Girard Middle
  • Dothan and Northview would remain 9th - 12th

Scenario 4: 

  • Six schools would close: Cloverdale, Grandview, Faine, Honeysuckle, Heard and Montana Street
  • There would be three kindergarten - 3rd grade schools : Girard Middle, Beverlye, Carver
  • There would be three 4th - 7th grade schools: Girard Elem, Hidden Lake, Slingluff.
  • There would be three kindergarten - 7th grade schools: Highlands, Kelly Springs, Selma Street
  • Dothan High School would be for 8th and 9th graders
  • Northview High School would be for 10th - 12th graders

Dr. Edwards also asked board members to consider the future of magnet schools and if they would like to keep magnet schools as separate schools or make each school a specialized magnet program offering things like STEM or fine arts. Parents would be responsible for their child's transportation in both scenarios.

It's estimated the system would save between $3 - $5 million annually based on the proposals. Dr. Edwards says the bulk of the savings would go back into instruction - like ensuring all schools have arts and music programs, foreign language, or hiring Reading and Math specialists. Money would also go towards facility upgrades. Dr. Edwards noted the system has between $15 - $16 million in deferred maintenance costs.

This meeting was solely to present the proposals to the school board. Next Monday and Tuesday, Dr. Edwards will have community meetings where she will present the proposals to the public. Monday's meeting is at 10:00 am at the Wiregrass Museum. Tuesday's meeting is at 6:00 pm at the Wiregrass Museum.

Dr. Edwards says she expects discussions about the proposals to begin next month with school board members and a decision to be made by late October or early November.

The changes would take place for the 2018 - 2019 school year.

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