North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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August 23, 2013

Fultondale parent presses Jefferson County Board of Education for renovations

BIRMINGHAM — The mother of a seventh-grade student has grown frustrated with conditions at Fultondale High School, and she’s taken her complaints directly to the top.

Melisha Smith told the Jefferson County Board of Education on Thursday evening that something needs to be done about the half-century-old facility, which this year has added the sixth grade to ease overcrowding at Fultondale Elementary.

“We believe that renovations are desperately needed, from the main building to the technical building to the grounds,” Jones said. “It is old. We have computers, but that’s about the most updated material we have.”

Smith is a former educator, having taught at a charter school in the Phoenix, Ariz. area before moving to Alabama. She was very complimentary of the FHS staff, particularly principal Dr. Stephanie Robinson. “I want that workplace and that building to reflect that level [of commitment],” she said.

Board President Jennifer Parsons suggested that board members and Superintendent Dr. Stephen Nowlin might want to take a field trip to the schools to assess the situation. “We do feel your frustrations,” Parsons said.

Nowlin had already visited the schools earlier in the year in preparation for the sixth grade move, but he said that it will be difficult to make definite plans for a new facility until city leaders in Gardendale decide if and when they will split from the county system to form their own district.

“We are trying to balance our budget, and when we do, we are hoping to be able to borrow or build from our own funds,” Nowlin said. “If Gardendale pulls out ... for everyone from outside the city limits, we’ll have to build something different than if we’re just building for Fultondale.”

Smith was pleased with the response she got from the board.

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