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House for little Panthers is an important project

Nothing reveals the health of a community or county like its schools. Education lays a foundation for the future leaders of an area and is perhaps the most critical area of responsibility for the current leaders of an area.

So, when the opportunity arises to build a new school, everyone that will be affected – directly or indirectly, in the present or in the future – needs to take ownership of the project. This time, it’s the planned Jemison Intermediate School (Jefferson State Community College is also an important project, but we’ll focus on the school whose construction was approved by the county Board of Education at its Tuesday meeting).

School Superintendent Keith Moore said the design of the new school will be similar to that of Clanton Middle School and will be one of the larger buildings in the school system. It will have to be.

About 1,000 students in kindergarten through the fourth grade attend Jemison Elementary School, the highest number of any school in the county, and all those kids will be moving into the intermediate school over the next few years. Even more growth is likely.

In order to prevent unsightly temporary classrooms and expensive addition projects in the future, it’s important that the board get the school construction right.

We think it will. We would have been confident before Tuesday’s meeting, but a presentation from Neil Hyche of the Alabama Department of Education provided good news.

We’re not sure how they determine these things, but Hyche said Moore scored a 49 on his professional development.

“That’s a very good score,” Hyche said. “Most superintendents usually score 44, 46 or 47. Mr. Moore and the board of education should be commended.”

We agree, but there’s little time for commendation. There’s a school to build, one that will go a long way toward determining the future of Chilton County.