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Rutherford sets realignment groundwork

By Kristen Bishop · 340-2443

MOULTON — Lawrence County schools Superintendent Dexter Rutherford has established guidelines for the countywide realignment forum Feb. 5.

Rutherford sent letters home with county students last week giving parents an opportunity to submit questions to the Board of Education. The superintendent urged parents to devote comments to the following question:

“If the Lawrence County Board of Education were to decide to realign schools, what concerns/considerations would you like to have addressed?”

The three-page letter also includes a request form for residents who would like to speak during the forum. A limited number of speakers, who will be notified before the forum, will be given a three-minute time limit.

The third sheet has a list of 16 committees that would be formed if the Board of Education decides to pursue a realignment plan and asks interested residents to sign up for one or more.

The committees include school safety, special education, athletics, student transition and curriculum.

Rutherford asked parents to return the forms to their children’s schools by 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 30.

The countywide forum will be at A.W. Todd Coliseum, across from Lawrence County High School, in Mouton.

Board members are considering three options to consolidate the county’s seven high schools into either one, two or three schools.

Many residents have adamantly opposed any form of consolidation. Some believe that removing high schools from communities will rob those communities of their identities, while some have argued that children perform better in smaller schools.

Rutherford said consolidation is the only way to improve course offerings and educational opportunities in a cash-strapped school system that is able to offer only a “bare-bones” curriculum. Proponents of consolidation cite the many Lawrence County graduates who struggle to succeed in college.

Consolidation is an option only if the state Legislature approves an expected bond issue for school capital projects in the spring, said Rutherford. Otherwise, the school system will not be able to afford building another facility, which all the county’s realignment plans require.

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