Facility concerns topic of VHS meeting

Published 2:39 pm Friday, June 30, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Maintenance issues and getting a field house were major concerns of the Verbena community at a town hall hosted by Chilton County Schools Superintendent Tommy Glasscock.

Building a field house for the school to be used by both boys and girls sports had been mentioned a year or two ago, but the project has never taken off. Glasscock said the community would need to raise half of the money and the school system would pay the rest.

The school superintendent said another school recently built a field house and the cost was $95,000. Verbena has raised about $20,000 for the project.

Glasscock emphasized “wrapping athletics around academics” as a key to success.

An audience member said she felt like VHS “got put on the back burner” with maintenance because roof leaks are not addressed.  Glasscock said every school feels that way.

“I am very reluctant to come before the board and recommend we put a million-dollar roof on a 100-year-old building,” Glasscock said. “We are going to have decide do we want to put a new roof on this building or do we want to take some of those funds and get the community excited about some things, continue to build, get our enrollment up and look at some where to build a brand new high school.”

Recently, $100,000 was spent on fixing issues with the foundation of the school.

A new facility would also eliminate the annex bring both halves of the school to the same side of the railroad tracks.

Glasscock said location and funding will be the key issues. The estimated 654 students for next school year will put the facility at capacity. One audience member asked where the third-grade students would be because of the increase in lower grade students.

As far as funding expansion at VHS, Glasscock said some of the school system’s debt will be paid off in 2019, making a new school building more feasible.

Other maintenance concerns included the girl’s locker room and the bleachers. Audience members said an ongoing sewage smell in the girl’s locker room has not been resolved after numerous reports to maintenance.  Glasscock said he did not know it was an ongoing issue and would get with maintenance about a permanent solution.

The school’s bleachers were brought up as a maintenance concern and described as a “lawsuit waiting to happen” by one audience member. Principal Todd Davis said he had someone scheduled in July to come look at the bleachers and give recommendations.

An audience member asked what the district could do to keep teachers and principals at Verbena. She said there had been three principals and vice principals in three years. Glasscock said the Division of Teaching and Learning will be looking at that.

Lack of textbooks was also a concern. A parent said her student could not bring books home to study because there were not enough for each student.

“The state allocates a [certain] amount of dollars for textbooks per child,” Glasscock said. ” If you were to make Mr. Davis aware of a class that didn’t have a textbook we would certainly do everything we could to get one.”

Glasscock said the school system is working toward having a Chromebook for each student, which will replace textbooks.