Enrollment freeze lifted for Thorsby School

Published 3:54 pm Friday, March 20, 2015

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An enrollment freeze on Thorsby School was lifted this week.

The Chilton County Board of Education voted in favor of the measure, which was recommended by Superintendent Tommy Glasscock.

The “freeze” had been in effect a couple of times in the last several years as the town deals with a growing population, while the school system hasn’t had funds available to build a new school.

The freeze pertained only to students from outside Thorsby who wanted to enroll at the school. Thorsby residents have not been kept from attending the school.

The Chilton County school system does not have school zones.

Still, Glasscock said he had heard from town officials that the freeze had a negative effect.

“The community felt like it created a perception that we’re not going to grow,” Glasscock said.

Glasscock said the school is designed to handle 800-850 students, but enrollment grew to over 900.

“When we got to that threshhold, we had to do something,” he said about the freezes being put in place. “You have to applaud [Principal Russ] Bryan and Thorsby because people want to go there.”

The vote to end the freeze was not unanimous, as board member Pam Price voted against the measure because of a clause that was added to the wording of the recommendation.

At the start of Tuesday’s regular meeting at the Chilton County Board of Education central office off Lay Dam Road, the agenda distributed listed a recommendation to “lift the enrollment freeze at Thorsby School.”

Along with other amendments, the wording, “with enrollment numbers to be evaluated annually,” was added to the end of the recommendation, and Price took issue with the addition.

“To me, we’re singling them out again,” Price said. “I just have a problem with a stipulation on one school and not the others.”

Price wanted to remove the stipulation, but there was confusion about the rules of order, and her request was not voted on.

The amended recommendation passed by a 6-1 vote.

Glasscock said the enrollment of each school in the county would be evaluated annually.

Glasscock said a new high school for Thorsby has “been on the radar for years,” and the school board has even purchased land where the school would be located.

But securing a bond issue is a significant obstacle, the superintendent said. A high school is the most expensive type of school to build because it usually includes an auditorium, athletic venues and other facilities, Glasscock said and pointed out that no high school has been built in Chilton County in recent past.