A new high school in Guntersville is in jeopardy after city leaders learned the project could cost $50 million. The preliminary budget for the new school was $30 million less. The only way to pay for it might be through a tax hike.
The current school was built in 1971. The city council has proposed a one percent sales tax increase, and in five years, half of the profits would go to a new school. Since the original proposal, WAAY 31 has learned the new tax proposal will skip the five years and give funds to the district sooner.
"That money is not going to be sufficient to build a new high school," said a Guntersville parent, Leamon Yarbrough.
He is among a group advocating that the sales tax be raised not just to 9 percent, but to 9.5 percent, as long as that extra revenue goes to the school district. He says there's still a lot to be done before a final price-tag is set for the new high school, but agrees that there needs to be one.
"The high school is getting close to 50 years of age and needs to be replaced," Yarbrough said.
Another Guntersville parent, Ed Marsh, said the school needs upgrades, but he doesn't agree with the extra tax.
"I go to Albertville and see their school system and their sports complex and stuff. I get a little jealous," Marsh said.
Marsh had 10 kids make their way through Guntersville High School, and he has two currently attending. He said he's seen firsthand some of the improvements the school needs, especially because his son uses a wheelchair.
"He has to go out of his way a little bit when he goes to certain places in the school, because it's not handicap accessible," Marsh said.
Marsh said if the district can't afford a new school, it should focus on upgrading the old one.
"Do some considerable work with what we've got now," he said.
The mayor's office said it expects to discuss the sales tax increase at Monday's city council meeting. We'll let you know what they decide about the tax and the new high school.
"There has been much talk about a new high school for Guntersville. The reason being our current high school was built in 1971. So, this facility is quickly approaching 50 years of service to faculty, staff, and students. As a result, the structure of our current high school is lacking in terms of meeting the needs that are required and so important in today's society relative to teaching and learning. However, our architects have estimated the cost to build a new Guntersville High School at $50M. With this amount far exceeding our budget, additional taxes would have to factor into the equation if a new high school is to be built," said Brett Stanton, Superintendent.