The chairman of the Educate Wetumpka Committee asked the Elmore County school board on Monday to support efforts that could lead to public referendums on raising taxes for construction of new athletic facilities in the Wetumpka and Redland school districts.
In an open letter read during the board of education meeting, Brent Turner said Hohenberg Field, which opened in 1909, is inadequate for Wetumpka High School’s football program, especially since significant growth is expected in a new Redland Middle School, which will be a feeder program for WHS.
“Wetumpka is a growing community and is poised for much more growth with the announcement of the new middle school that is to be built in Redland,” Turner said. “We understand with the new growth expected there will also be the need for more space at Wetumpka High School in many ways. We anticipate the need for more classroom space because WHS is at or close to capacity currently and there will be the need for new athletic facilities to accommodate this growth.”
Turner predicted Wetumpka would move from Class 6A to 7A, which encompasses the biggest schools in the state.
Because the Elmore County School System doesn’t have the money to build new athletic facilities at Wetumpka High School and Redland Middle School, Turner urged the school board to endorse what is known as the Talladega Plan — which allows targeted property tax increases in specific districts, not countywide.
Turner said the fact voters recently approved a renewal of property taxes leads him to believe the climate is right to try the Talladega Plan in Elmore County.
“For many years we have been reactive to situations of growth,” Turner said. “Today we are asking that you take a proactive approach in anticipation of the expected growth that is surely to come to this community in the near future.”
Superintendent Richard Dennis said the Elmore County School System does not have enough money to build a new stadium and fieldhouse in Wetumpka and explained a plan similar to Talladega’s involves much more than school board approval.
“The process would start with the school board, then go to the county commission and then probably to the local legislative delegation,” Dennis said. “You’re talking about pretty significant costs. There’s not enough money in our budget to do these projects. Educational facilities are our priority.”
In fact, the school system may seek up to $40 million in bonds for three major projects — the new Redland Middle School, moving the Elmore County Technical Center and renovations to the band room and cafeteria at Stanhope Elmore High School. Elmore County Technical Center principal Jimmy Hull said at the meeting his facility is “busting at the seams” and 700 students are coming daily, double the enrollment only a few years ago.
Turner said his committee and school system officials, including Dennis, toured Childersburg High School’s new athletic facilities and said the Educate Wetumpka Committee and the Redland Education Committee are willing to make a joint effort to implement the Talladega Plan.
Turner said Wetumpka’s athletic facilities have numerous shortcomings.
“Currently WHS operates its football program in facilities that are dated and for many purposes are not adequate,” said Turner, who detailed a lack of showers in the visiting team fieldhouse, which was built in 1962.
“Some teams have actually detoured to local college facilities to shower before returning home,” he said.
At the on-campus fieldhouse, “every locker is taken and there is no room for expansion,” according to Turner. It houses 115 student-athletes but has only two toilets, eight showers and one water fountain.
Turner also said:
• Wetumpka is the only high school in the county without an on-campus stadium.
• WHS is the only school in the county that financially maintains three football fieldhouses.
• WHS is the only school in the county that must submit bus requests and secure bus drivers to transport players from the school to an off-campus stadium.
• The Wetumpka Middle School football program uses a field inside the track built on a dumping ground for construction materials; exposed bricks, rocks, boards and concrete protrude from the ground.
In other developments at the meeting:
• Wetumpka resident Jack McDaniel told the board he is concerned about rumors on social media the school system is considering building an exercise hill in his neighborhood.
“Think of the impact of a 70-foot pile of dirt,” he said. “You could be looking over into somebody’s yard; there are no privacy fences. Then there is drainage. Before acting on it, do it right — think of the impact on the neighborhood instead of just throwing it in a corner.”
• Chief financial officer Jason Mann said the system got 29 replies from financial institutions concerning bonds for the school system’s three major construction projects. Tuesday was the deadline to receive proposals before they are scored.
• The board unanimously approved the appointment of Lewis S. Hamilton of the Powell and Hamilton law firm in Greenville to represent the board as special counsel in an employment matter for $195 an hour.
• The board unanimously approved the following personnel moves:
• Crystal Bass, Millbrook Middle School office aide
• John Claybrook, Holtville High general science teacher
• John Howard, Holtville bus driver
• Randall Tyler Perdue, computer technician
• Darrell Sellers, Wetumpka Middle P.E. aide
• Kaleb Shuman, Stanhope Elmore High history teacher and baseball coach
• Jaclyn Taylor, Stanhope Elmore High assistant principal
• April Collier, Eclectic Middle School Child Nutrition Program (CNP) worker to Elmore County High CNP worker
• Shalyse Edgar, Millbrook Middle CNP worker to ARIS CNP worker
• Carole Langley, CNP utility worker to Wetumpka Elementary CNP worker
• Randy Maynard, special project manager to maintenance coordinator
• Lindsay McDaniel, Millbrook Middle library aide to maintenance general office personnel
• Ashley Mims, Holtville Middle special education aide to Holtville Elementary special education aide
• Blakely Pemberton, Holtville Elementary first-grade teacher to Redland Elementary second-grade teacher
• Courtney Presley, Coosada Elementary first-grade teacher to CES second-grade teacher
• Julie White, Millbrook Middle CNP assistant manager to Wetumpka Elementary CNP worker
• Tonya Wilson, early childhood special education teacher to Holtville Elementary special education teacher
• Miriam Anderson, Millbrook Middle science teacher
• Casey Antley, Holtville Middle math teacher
• Drew Scott Bozeman, virtual school teacher
• Taylor Brown, Wetumpka Elementary third-grade teacher
• Jason Fisher, Millbrook Middle, fifth-grade teacher
• Elizabeth Gober, Wetumpka High math teacher
• Joshua Hartley, Millbrook Middle history teacher
• LaTasha Jackson, Stanhope Elmore High science teacher
• Lauren Ladnier, Millbrook Middle special education teacher
• Carol Managan, Coosada Elementary first-grade teacher
• Britton Matthews, Wetumpka High school nurse
• Mallory Meherg, Coosada Elementary first-grade teacher
• Deidre Nash, Wetumpka Middle sixth-grade teacher
• Stephanie Nobles, Wetumpka Middle fifth-grade teacher
• Melanie Parr, Airport Road Intermediate fourth-grade teacher
• Cortney Poret, Stanhope Elmore High CNP worker
• Alysia Shackelford, Millbrook bus driver
• Gail Singleton, Millbrook Middle custodian
• Kristen Taylor, Wetumpka Elementary first-grade teacher
• SaraBeth Williams, Millbrook Middle English language arts teacher
• Kychelle Woods, Millbrook Middle CNP worker
LEAVES OF ABSENCE
• Rhonda Bozeman, Wetumpka Elementary CNP assistant manager
SUMMER SCHOOL STAFFING
• LaToya Davis, Wetumpka Middle administrator
• Eloyse Seamon, Wetumpka Middle administrator
• Tarica Lamar, Elmore County Technical Center teacher
• Hillary Calloway, Coosada Elementary kindergarten teacher
• Brittany Halen, CNP utility worker
• Brandon Hamilton, Wetumpka Middle history teacher
• Christina Helton-Oates, Wetumpka Middle CNP worker
• Pamela Holt, Holtville High ISS aide
• Elizabeth Johnson, Holtville High science teacher
• Justin Jones, Stanhope Elmore High science teacher
• Erin Kreauter, Wetumpka Elementary speech teacher
• John Lucido, CNP maintenance worker
• Melissa McKenney, Coosada Elementary kindergarten teacher
• Derrick Powell, Wetumpka High P.E. teacher
• Penny Pratt, Eclectic Elementary kindergarten teacher
• Debra Smith, Wetumpka Elementary CNP worker
• Tatum Smith, Wetumpka High TV production teacher
• Rachael Spivey, Wetumpka High bookkeeper
• Kaitlyn Spradlin, Airport Road Intermediate third-grade teacher
• Chimeka Wells, Wetumpka Middle custodian