MPS in early talks about possibly closing 2 schools

Montgomery public school leaders are in early discussions about the possible closure of two schools for the 2023-2024 school year. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 10:31 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - At Tuesday’s board of education meeting for Montgomery Public Schools, there were early discussions about the possible closure of two schools for the 2023-2024 school year.

Montgomery public school leaders say it’s costing the school system more money to keep Dunbar-Ramer School and Pintlala Elementary School open than it would be to close them.

MPS reports that both schools are seeing a decline in student enrollment and the cost for repairs and teachers is out of reach.

Dunbar-Ramer School and Pintlala Elementary School are some of MPS’ more rural schools, each with declining student populations. Even though a decision has not been made yet on whether or not to close either school, MPS leaders are weighing their options.

“It’s a very sensitive subject, I admit that,” said Superintendent Ann Roy Moore.

Montgomery Public School leaders say the decision to potentially close these schools is difficult but may be necessary to save the school system money.

Pintlala Elementary serves an average of 100 students in kindergarten though sixth grade. Dunbar-Ramer School has about 75 students in K-8.

Right now there are too many teachers at either school than needed for the number of students. This means MPS is paying for more teachers out of their pocket rather than with state funding.

“It cost so much to operate a school that usually have less than 300 students. Usually a district will have to start picking up that additional cost,” said MPS’ chief financial officer, Arthur Watts.

MPS estimates $225,000 has been spent between both schools on utilities over the past eight months. The estimated cost to repairs needed at Dunbar-Ramer is $16.6 million. The estimated repair costs at Pintlala are $10.5 million.

“I think it’s very doable. We just have to put our minds to it and continue, as we said before, to look at it for the next year. What makes more sense to do from an economic, sort of a cost effectiveness perspective,” said Moore.

If the schools close students would be rezoned.

“We’d have to reassign those students to other schools. We’d have to do some rezoning so that students are assigned to certain schools that have the capacity and that would close enough to take those students,” said Moore.

Some family members of children who attend these schools were at Tuesday’s meeting. They are upset about what this possible decision would mean for their families.

Moore said the school board and the next superintendent, Melvin J. Brown, will weigh options over the next year for what would be bet financially.

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