Alabama representative hopes to help Houston County Schools with "toilet troubles"

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HOUSTON COUNTY, Ala. (WTVY) - The Houston County School Board has been having some “toilet troubles” at high school football fields.

They are having a hard time coming up with the money to get enough stalls in their restrooms.

The superintendent thinks the requirement is too high given the amount of fans in the stands at any given game.

The school board reached out to Alabama State Representative Paul Lee and told him about the issue.

Now Lee has put a bill in motion to try to take a plunger to the problem.

"It's simple,” said Lee. “It's probably one of the more simple bills I've carried over the last several years."

Alabama State House Representative Paul Lee is talking about House Bill 159, affectionately known as the “Bathroom Bill”.

It may be simple, but it could mean huge savings for school districts across the state.

Right now, school systems are required to provide one stall per 75 seats for the first 1500 seats at a stadium.

"They use the stadium five times a year, and in most cases, they're half full,” said Lee. “So what you've just done is added tens and tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of the school system."

Lee's bill would change it to one toilet per 200 seats.

It doesn't sound like much, but it would make a world of difference to the Houston County School District.

"They are quoting us that it's $260 per square foot to build a commercial bathroom,” said Houston County Schools Superintendent David Sewell.

It's gotten to the point that the school district has to consider the cost of bringing bathrooms up to code when looking at making improvements to any stadiums.

Let's take Cottonwood high school for example.

The football field needs a new set of bleachers after the old visitor ones were blown away during Hurricane Michael, but if they add so much as one seat over what was already there, they'll have to pay to bring the bathrooms up to code and add all those stalls.

Something the school system simply can't afford.

There are a few schools in the district that are already up to code, like Rehoboth, but the superintendent thinks that's the perfect example of the restrooms being a waste of money.

"There has not been a need yet to use these bathrooms, so to keep from having to use them, they keep them locked,” said Sewell.

Houston County couldn't wait to see if the bill would pass before starting upgrades to Wicksburg High's restrooms, so they will be built to the current code.

The superintendent is hoping that's the last project that will flush the district's money.

The school system does have plans to improve the restrooms at Ashford and Houston County High, but with the bill working its way through the legislature, they're choosing to wait before making any changes.

The bill was read on March 19th and is currently with the House of Representatives’ Committee on State Government.

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