North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

October 2, 2012

Gardendale eyes its own school system

Council authorizes $50,000 for a feasibility study

By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News

GARDENDALE — The city of Gardendale will again investigate the possibility of having its own school system.

City council members voted Monday to appropriate up to $50,000 to launch a financial feasibility study for a Gardendale municipal school system.

Talk about the school system started in the community and “grew like wildfire” after organizers started a Facebook discussion page called Gardendale City Schools, according to Tim Bagwell of Gardendale, who started the Facebook page. As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 800 people had joined the discussion group.

The city had a study conducted in 1999 to determine if starting a local school system was a good idea.

“At that time, it was not feasible,” said Bagwell. “But we have the new [high] school and new dynamics. ... This is just a first step. We need a really informed expert opinion.”

Gardendale Mayor Othell Phillips said the city has not yet chosen a company to conduct the study.

“There are still a lot of questions,” Phillips said.

He said those who support a local school system say it could decrease classroom size, improve test scores, increase property values in Gardendale and localize control of city funds.

Some city employees question the city spending $50,000 on a study that has already been conducted, when the city is already borrowing money to renovate the new public safety center.

In other business, the council:

The next regular city council meeting is Oct. 16, 6 p.m., at Gardendale City Hall.