Houston County School Board decides future of Harmon School during packed agenda

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HOUSTON COUNTY, Ala. (WTVY) - One of Houston County's oldest buildings may soon be seeing some changes.

During a meeting Monday night, the Houston County School Board voted to sell the Harmon School in Pansey, but that wasn’t all the board decided.

There were 31 items on the agenda.

Most of them had to do with enrollment, safety and finding a new purpose for an old school.

There was plenty of 'yaying' and 'naying' as the Houston County School Board tackled its longest agenda of the summer.

First up, Kelly Services, which provides substitute teachers. They told the board they had to fill 10,000 absences, up nearly 2,000 from 2017-18.

But they came up short, leaving about 900 days when students didn't have a teacher or substitute.

"I'm not content because every time they don't fill, we have to do something else for those students,” said Houston County Schools Superintendent David Sewell. “They're not getting instruction."

Kelly Services is hoping that by serving Early County this coming year, they can put a dent in that deficit.

The school board approved adding two new school resource officers, bringing the total to nine.

Now, every campus will be covered at all times.

"The school board recognizes a need for safety,” said Sewell. “Half of our discussion was about security cameras, doors and locks and SROs."

One campus they won't be protecting, the Harmon School.

The Harmon School in Pansey was a part of the district as far back as 1936, but was closed in the late 90's due to declining enrollment.

A fire in 2016 caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.

"Since then, we've been looking for a buyer,” said Sewell. “There was several acres of land and it became where we could not insure it."

The board only got one offer for $15,000, but that was enough for them to decide to let the landmark go.

The board also talked about the need to rent five portable classrooms, three at Rehobeth Elementary and two at Wicksburg High School due to a significant increase in enrollment.

They will most likely vote on that at the next meeting in August.