North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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November 6, 2013

Breaking Away: FOCUS Gardendale says school system would benefit Gardendale



However, Lucas thinks Gardendale schools are not necessarily receiving the full 30.1 mills of tax from Gardendale residents, because taxes from across the county are spread among all of the Jefferson County schools.

With the 30.1 mills that residents already pay, plus 5 mills the Gardendale City Council imposed in September and another possible 5 mills that citizens will vote on Tuesday, “you’ve got an incredibly well-funded school system,” Lucas said.

“Obviously we think this will provide a quality education for our kids,” he added. “But it’s bigger than education. The second piece of the equation is that quality communities are anchored by quality education systems.”

In spring 2012, the men began talking with people in the education field to find out what it would take for Gardendale to form its own school system.

They then began to talk with Gardendale City Council members and those running for the council “to sell the idea to them that we should pursue the idea of a city school system,” said Salters.

When the new city council took office in November 2012, it did not take long for all members, including Mayor Othell Phillips, to get on board with the idea.

Another proponent of the system is Kenny Clemons, who was mayor of Garden­dale for 12 years and was the principal at E.B. Erwin (now Center Point) High School for 30 years.

“This is the best opportunity that any city in the state of Alabama has ever had to form a school system,” Clemons said.

About 10 years ago, when he was mayor, Clemons said Gardendale considered forming its own school system mainly to try to remedy Gardendale schools’ aging facilities, but he did not have the support of the city council.

But he said now is an even better opportunity because Gardendale High School has a new facility, and the city school system will not have to pay a bond issue for the new school.

“Our elected officials see this as an opportunity to move our city to another level,” Clemons said. “I’m not for taxes any more than anybody else, but I am for moving the city forward.”

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