North Alabama schools preparing for auto growth

The heads of school systems in Athens and Limestone County believe they are either ready to handle more students or can get ready when the time comes.

Posted: Feb 20, 2018 5:08 PM

ATHENS, Ala. (AP) - With the promise of growth from a new Toyota-Mazda plant and its support industries, city and county schools in north Alabama will have to be able to handle more students.

The heads of school systems in Athens and Limestone County believe they are either ready to handle more students or can get ready when the time comes.

"We are covered for the next 10 years for average growth," said Athens City Schools Superintendent Trey Holladay. "We feel very good about the next five years with no trouble."

Holladay said a $55 million high school under construction will hold 1,500 students without an addition.

"We could go 400 per grade, but we have less than 300 per grade now," he said.

When high-schoolers move to their new building, middle-school students will move to the old high school, where there is plenty of room for growth. Other schools also have room.

"We've got enough for 80 more per grade in grades K-3," Holladay said.

He wants to keep elementary schools at a maximum of 500 to 550 students.

"We want to keep in mind the hometown feel as we grow, and not just add onto an existing building but add a new school," he said. "We don't want a mega-elementary school."

Limestone County Schools Superintendent Tom Sisk is focused on training enough students to supply industries rather than on whether current school facilities need expansion.

"We're not ready; no one is going to be ready for that kind of growth so quickly," Sisk said.

He said he and superintendents from Athens, Decatur and Lauderdale County schools as well as industry leaders have already met with industry leaders and others to carve out a plan for growth.

Sisk said the group also includes the state automotive association, Alabama Industrial Development Training, Calhoun Community College and various industry leaders. He said the group is also forming partnerships with Carpenter Technologies, an existing Limestone industry. Tom Hill, head of the Limestone County Economic Development Association, has been "a catalyst for bringing the right people into the room," he said.

Sask said the group is looking at a vacant building as a place to train for the region. He said students from five regions would be sent to the facility, which would be supported by the school systems.

"It would be a more regional approach to training students needed to supply industries," he said. "So, we have a vision, but we are not ready to communicate it yet."

While Sisk believes additional students will surely result from new industries coming in, he does not see how anyone can estimate how many students that will be.

"We are going to have 36,000 jobs on us in about 10 years, based on different estimates, but that doesn't translate to 36,000 students," he said. "We don't know how many will be in Limestone, how many will be in Lauderdale or Decatur."

"We have space in existing (school) facilities," Sisk said, noting that does not mean expansion will not be required. However, he said he can't justify expanding until he knows how many students will be coming into the Limestone County system.

He guessed the region would "have some growing pains," which might result in some portable classrooms until school systems get reimbursed by the state and can expand.

"But, to rush out and build a high school or elementary school would be foolish," he said.

Readying a workforce isn't just about new manufacturing.

"The new capacity we are trying to build will support that, but it is equally important that we demonstrate to the factories already here that we love them and will continue to support them," Sisk said. "They are worried the new industries will cherry-pick their best employees. We have to expand the capacity (number of available trained workers), and that site will do that."

Sisk said Limestone schools currently graduate about 750 students a year and 40 percent of them will go to college. He said area schools will need to turn out 5,000 to 6,000 trained workers for the region.

___

Information from: The News Courier, http://www.enewscourier.com

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

2/20/2018 8:53:20 AM (GMT -6:00)

Click to Submit Photo

 

 

Huntsville
Scattered Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 68°
Florence
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 71°
Fayetteville
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 68°
Decatur
Few Clouds
67° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 67°
Scottsboro
Scattered Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 70°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 155915

Reported Deaths: 2674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22861374
Mobile14468314
Tuscaloosa10148139
Montgomery9875196
Madison915094
Shelby720462
Lee649665
Baldwin647569
Marshall433049
Calhoun418960
Etowah418749
Morgan403635
Houston369232
DeKalb330229
Elmore314852
St. Clair287142
Limestone276530
Walker272293
Talladega261035
Cullman235724
Lauderdale214841
Jackson210015
Autauga202330
Franklin202131
Colbert196731
Russell19233
Blount189325
Dallas186227
Chilton184132
Escambia171929
Coffee171710
Covington169929
Dale165451
Chambers133643
Pike132313
Tallapoosa130587
Clarke130017
Marion106229
Butler100140
Barbour9979
Marengo99222
Winston91313
Geneva8527
Pickens82417
Lawrence82131
Randolph81216
Bibb81114
Hale74930
Clay72912
Cherokee72614
Lowndes70328
Monroe64010
Henry6396
Bullock63717
Washington63412
Crenshaw60230
Perry5836
Wilcox56212
Fayette56113
Conecuh55713
Cleburne5438
Macon52920
Sumter47021
Lamar4665
Choctaw38812
Greene34216
Coosa2023
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 237907

Reported Deaths: 3011
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby34892558
Davidson30302330
Knox1217488
Hamilton11368105
Rutherford11274110
Williamson680255
Sumner5788108
Wilson451455
Putnam425754
Montgomery398851
Out of TN382836
Unassigned38224
Madison369679
Bradley347923
Sullivan339546
Sevier324121
Washington324146
Blount319132
Maury313937
Robertson253741
Hamblen237943
Tipton226022
Dyer209627
Gibson208238
Hardeman182132
Coffee179920
Trousdale17517
Obion167820
Greene161851
Bedford161720
Anderson161114
Fayette160522
Dickson160419
Wayne15697
Loudon156610
McMinn156433
Cumberland156124
Lawrence152618
Jefferson149220
Weakley146725
Carter146532
Monroe139528
Warren138710
Henderson137925
Lauderdale136717
Hardin135219
Macon128625
Franklin124416
Roane12237
Haywood121027
Overton116512
Hawkins114224
White113314
Johnson11177
Carroll110525
McNairy109926
Marshall10859
Rhea106316
Cheatham100011
Bledsoe9994
Lake9753
Cocke96612
Smith96212
Giles92134
Campbell9118
Fentress8778
Lincoln8363
Crockett80320
Henry75610
Hickman75113
Marion7249
Chester71514
DeKalb69017
Decatur64811
Grainger5514
Grundy53511
Union5173
Claiborne5086
Polk48313
Jackson4345
Humphreys4244
Morgan4227
Houston39915
Benton3979
Cannon3962
Unicoi3842
Clay38314
Lewis3602
Scott3514
Sequatchie3294
Stewart3128
Meigs3005
Perry2611
Moore2542
Pickett2527
Van Buren1971
Hancock1133

Community Events