From Dr. Mason: Update on Gresham and School Restructuring
November 1, 2017 -- In April of this year, the Vestavia Hills Board of Education adopted a facilities plan to address the current overcrowding of its schools and the ongoing growth in enrollment projected over the next several years.
That plan provided for the following structure of our schools beginning with the opening of the 2019 – 2020 school year:
- Vestavia Hills High School: 10th – 12th grades
- Berry Campus: 6th – 9th grades
- Liberty Park Middle School: 6th – 9th grades
- Pizitz Campus: Kindergarten – 5th grades
- Vestavia Hills Elementary East: Kindergarten – 5th grades
- Vestavia Hills Elementary West: Kindergarten – 5th grades
- Vestavia Hills Elementary Cahaba Heights: Kindergarten – 5th grades
- Vestavia Hills Elementary Liberty Park: Kindergarten – 5th grades
Then, in July, the Jefferson County Board of Education approached the Vestavia Hills Board of Education to determine its interest in purchasing the Gresham Elementary School property. In August, the Vestavia Hills Board of Education signed a letter of intent indicating its desire to purchase the Gresham property at its appraised value. Negotiations with Jefferson County for the purchase of Gresham continue and are sufficiently promising to begin the process of considering how Gresham might fit into our long-range facility plans.
Your Board has charged me with answering this question: Would the acquisition of Gresham make possible a revised facilities plan that would be preferable to the plan adopted in April by the Board? Over the past several weeks, I have been working with staff, Hoar Program Management, and Lathan and Associates Architects to answer that question.
At this point, I have identified two options that I believe are worthy of the Board’s consideration. I will present those options to the Board of Education in a public work session on Tuesday, November 7, at 7:00 p.m. at Vestavia Hills Elementary East. The format for this meeting will engage Board members and community members in an analysis of the pros and cons for each option and in identifying questions related to each option.
Following the November 7 work session, we will conduct three additional community engagement meetings while also offering the same information and opportunity for engagement online. Our complete timeline for this process is shown below.
All of these discussions will be helpful to me as I work toward making a recommendation to the Board of Education at its December 13 meeting. I will recommend that the Board either affirm the plan it adopted in April or adopt a modification to that plan. In either case, I will make my recommendation public in advance of the Board meeting, and all stakeholders will then be able to comment online to me and to the Board of Education.
Throughout the process, we will post periodic updates on the school system website,www.vestavia.k12.al.us. I ask that you make this your go-to source for accurate and timely information.
Recently, I had the opportunity to tour the Gresham campus with Jefferson County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Craig Pouncey. What I saw was a school with large, well-maintained classrooms and extracurricular spaces. The interior of the school has been kept in excellent condition with much of the same technology and resources found in our schools. Gresham has served the students of Jefferson County well, and it has the potential to serve Vestavia Hills students just as well.
Photos from my tour of Gresham, as well as our complete timeline for this process, are shown below.
Charles Mason, Ed.D.
Vestavia Hills City Schools
Process/Timeline for Consideration of School Restructuring Options Made Possible by Acquisition of Gresham Property
Tuesday, November 7
Board work session/public engagement
Vestavia Hills Elementary East – 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, November 9
Results of work session go online for public review and engagement
Tuesday, November 14
Public engagement meetings:
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church – 10:00 a.m.
Liberty Park Middle School – 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday, November 15
Public engagement meeting:
Louis Pizitz Middle School – 4:00 p.m.
(Regular Board meeting to follow at 6:00 p.m.)
November 16 – 22
Ongoing online public engagement
Superintendent’s recommendation made public
December 6 – 12
Online engagement to respond to Superintendent’s recommendation
Board of Education acts on Superintendent’s recommendation at regular Board meeting – 6:00 p.m. at Board of Education