During a Saturday work session, members of the Anniston Board of Education agreed on the basics of a school consolidation plan that would (a.) close Anniston Middle School, (b.) house all the district’s seventh- and eighth-graders at Cobb Elementary and (c.) place sixth graders at one of the city’s four other elementary schools.
When compared to the pace of the previous school board, this new group is practically moving at light speed. The previous board had a chance to act on school consolidation before its term ended in November. Despite conducting the appropriate study on the potential outcomes of closing the middle school and shifting students, the outgoing board opted to punt the decision to the next board.
At the time, it felt like the city schools were stuck in a continuous loop of study followed by indecision. Well, no more. Last weekend the city school board showed that it is capable of moving forward. This space commends the board members and school administrators for making progress.
This isn’t to suggest that the job is finished. More work remains, starting with board members taking binding votes on its proposals for consolidation. Other details will include working with the city on a sale price for the property where Anniston Middle School sits, and eventually reducing the number of elementary schools to come in line with the district’s shrinking enrollment. And then there’s improving the schooling going on inside Anniston classrooms. When compared to producing better-prepared graduates from the district, school consolidation is the low-hanging fruit.
Still, the board has taken the first steps in this thousand-mile journey, and that’s noteworthy.