Forum held on separating Greenville from county school system

Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 10:44 PM CST
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GREENVILLE, Ala. (WSFA) - There’s a hot debate in Butler County over whether or not the city of Greenville should separate from the county to create their own school system. On Tuesday, residents gathered to learn more from experts about the process behind a possible split.

A crowd of Butler County parents and residents showed up at the LBW Conference Center to learn more about what impact a school system split could have on their children, taxes, and community. A panel of experts in school system separations answered questions about revenue, personnel and detailed what steps it would take to start a new school system.

“We’ve not done any analysis. We’ve not collected really any data yet. We’re just here to walk you through and make you aware of the steps,” one panel member told the crowd.

There are six schools in the Butler County school system. The four within the Greenville city limits are Greenville Elementary, Greenville Middle, Greenville High and W.O. Parmer Elementary. If the city creates its own system, that would leave the county with schools in Georgiana and McKenzie.

“This is something we’ve looked at before, did not do, but it’s come up again. Some of my council members are really interested in it,” said Mayor Dexter McLendon. “The bottom line is we’re doing it because our report card with the state’s not very good.”

According to a report by the state, the schools in the city limits of Greenville have lower academic ratings than the two schools outside the city limits. The city thinks a separation could help improve those scores.

“Their report card and McKenzie is a B. Georgiana’s is a C. Ours is is a D, and most of the money from sales tax comes out of Greenville, so it’s our job, and I’m elected to do what’s best for Greenville, Alabama, along with my council,” McLendon said.

“We do have some money that we could put into doing this school system. The question is - how do you do it? So we brought people in to tell us how to do it that are professionals that have done it in other places,” McLendon added.

Residents came before the council with a list of concerns regarding taxes, staffing, and budget allocation.

“The county money is going to supply the school,” one resident said.

“When you split the schools up it directly affects the kids that are going to school for band and things of that nature. You’re cutting those programs in half,” another said.

“I do live in the city and I need to know if the city school happens is it best for my son or do I need to move into the county,” another resident said.

Many of those in attendance were not convinced the panel has done enough research.

“I don’t want to ask you a question that you can’t answer,” said one resident.

“I noticed this PowerPoint was quite impressive but I saw two words missing - one was Butler and the other was Greenville. How many times have you used that,” one resident asked the panel.

The decision on a split has not been made yet. McClendon said the City Council will vote on that decision at a City Council meeting in the near future.

This was not the first time Greenville city officials have attempted to separate from the county. They had considered separation about 10 years ago.

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