Future of Dothan School Still Undecided

By: Tim Elliott Email
By: Tim Elliott Email

It was a packed house at the Dothan City School Board meeting tonight.
Some teachers and community members made a desperate plea, to keep one city school open.

Because of a 5-and-a-half million dollar budget shortfall, city school officials say they are contemplating shutting down the alternative school, PASS academy.
But faculty and concerned parents are fighting to keep students at pass, in the classroom.

“The classroom should be the last place that we cut,” says a concerned resident.
Emotions ran high at the Dothan City School board meeting Monday night.
Some Dothan residents are protesting the possible closure of pass academy.

"We have to make sure we give all of our children a fighting chance," says another resident.

State proration currently stands at 11-percent, leaving Dothan City Schools 5-and-a-half million dollars short with 2 months left in the fiscal year.

Superintendent Dr. Sam Nichols proposed closing the alternative school and implementing an "options academy".

Dr. Nichols believes the plan will save the school system almost $575,000

"It's absolutely essential that we look at possible ways to reduce our budget and still provide programs our kids deserve,” says Superintendent Nichols.

In 2008, the school system spent nearly a million and a half dollars to run pass academy.
In 2009, that number was cut to a little more than $900,000.
With Dr. Nichols plan, the new academy will operate on just less than $350,000.

“This is not a proposal I really wanted to make...but with catastrophic cuts if we don’t take very definite, strong measures at this point this school system will be in trouble,” says Superintendent Nichols.

School officials say they don't want to close the school, but cuts need to be made.
"We don't want to cut anything but you can't get blood out of a turnip. We don't have a way to raise revenue," says school board member Jimmy Addison.

But some residents say if the community pulls together, they'll eventually find a solution.
"It's not a lot of money, we can do it if we put our collective heads together and set out and try to work it out,” says Alabama NAACP president Edward Vaughn.

After superintendent Nichols made his recommendation, he did not ask the school board to vote.
He says he wants to take some time to gather their facts so they can make an informed decision.

No word on when the vote will be held.

Last year, PASS academy had almost 230 students enrolled in school.

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