Anniston City Board of Education ponders hiring demographic consultant
by Paige Rentz
prentz@annistonstar.com
Mar 01, 2013 | 5235 views |  0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Anniston Board of Education may hire outside help as it analyzes the best path forward in its facilities reorganization. Board members expressed concern Thursday night, however, about duplicating work on an issue that the district has been considering for about a year.

In a regular meeting, the board tabled a recommendation by Superintendent Joan Frazier that the district hire demographer Steve Salmon of Georgia to conduct a study of the school system’s facilities and demographics.

Frazier recommended the board approve entering into a contract with Salmon at a cost of $7,500 plus reimbursement for a small amount of travel. Salmon is available right away to start the study, she said, which usually takes about four weeks for a district Anniston’s size.

Board member Mary Klinefelter said the idea of bringing Salmon in is good but noted that some of the information he would be considering — student enrollment, facility capacity and analysis, facility occupancy rates, decreases in populations in various areas of town — has already been collected by the school district.

Board member Bill Robison suggested that Frazier and other members of the central office staff, in an effort to reduce costs, go through a potential contract and specifically delineate which analyses they want Salmon to conduct.

“There isn’t any point in paying him to take the information we give him,” he said.

Robison said one of the key items he would like to see from such a study is demographic numbers that would help the board rezone or move forward with whatever action it takes with its seven facilities.

“If we don’t know where the kids actually live — block, street, etc. — then we can’t do anything,” he said.

Frazier said Salmon’s study would take the information the schools have already collected and look at it alongside census information, business activity and potential, and other outside-the-classroom information and projections.

“I think we’ve done a good job as a school system of looking at this initial information, but the missing piece is bringing this all together and analyzing it into something we have not thought of already,” she said.

Once the study is completed, Frazier said, Salmon will present three to five options for the board to consider in regard to reorganizing the schools and drawing new district lines. She said she expected his final study would include new options and could eliminate some of the other configurations presented by an architect last year based on the new data analysis.

Frazier said she would talk the contract over with Salmon and call other Alabama districts he’s worked with to provide the Board of Education more information at its March 7 meeting. The reorganization is being folded into the district-wide strategic planning process, for which Frazier did not have a timeframe Thursday.

In other business, the board:

• Voted 3-2 against Frazier’s recommendation to hire James Wright, one of two certified superintendents’ evaluators in the state, to conduct her annual evaluation at a cost of approximately $2,500. The other evaluator, Steve Nowlin, served as the state-appointed superintendent of the Anniston City Schools from 2000-2002 and was Frazier’s supervisor. A former JSU professor, Nowlin was also Frazier’s instructor. Klinefelter said she would like to see someone new conduct the evaluation, and C. K. Huguley suggested the board conduct Frazier’s evaluation itself. Favoring Frazier’s recommendation were Robison and William Hutchings.

• Approved 3-2 the structure of the district’s steering committee for the strategic planning process: two teachers, two principals, two central office administrators, two parents, two students, two representatives from the business community and one board representative from each of the four local foundations. The steering committee, said Frazier, would be charged with overseeing the planning process and work with the planning consultant that will be hired to guide the process. Robison and Huguley voted "no" on the committee structure.

Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.
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