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A feasibility study is simply a study design to determine the feasibility, or possibility, of Chelsea having its own city school system. It is a preliminary step to determine if having our own school system would be a practical idea and make sense for our citizens. A feasibility study is in no way a decision to move forward with an actual plan to create our own school system. It is merely a process that will be used to determine if this is a viable idea for Chelsea.
The study will look at available tax revenues and identify any additional revenues needed to support a new school system in Chelsea, annual expenses assets, transportation costs, long-term debt service and identify adequate revenue streams to maintain a one month operative reserved for the school system. It will also provide information on future capital needs, expanded technology capacities and needed/required services for special needs students.
The feasibility study will take about 90 days to complete.
Chelsea is one of the fastest growing cities within Alabama. From 2010 through 2019, the city’s population grew by nearly 4,000 residents – an increase of 39%. It is projected that an additional 650 homes will be built within the city by the year 2025. That growth also extends to Chelsea’s adjoining sister communities whose families’ children currently attend one of the schools in the Chelsea student attendance zone.
As we look ahead at educating a growing student population, we know the needs of our students are increasing. They will require and deserve new and improved school facilities, increased learning opportunities, and more. As other parts of Shelby County also continue to grow, the increasing demands placed upon the county school system to provide resources and financial support across the system to its many schools also grow. We believe that now is the right time to take the responsible next steps in gathering information to explore the possible formation of a Chelsea school system that would be solely focused upon meeting the needs of students living within the communities our schools currently serve.
Forest Oaks Elementary School (grades K-5), Chelsea Park Elementary School (grades K-5), Mt Laurel Elementary School (grades K-5), Chelsea Middle School (grades 6-8), and Chelsea High School (grades 9-12). The combined student enrollment for the schools is more than 4,600.
There are costs associated with operating any school system, including the county system of which Chelsea’s schools currently are a part. The Chelsea City Council has authorized a feasibility study to be completed to identify the costs of forming and sustaining a city school system. That study is to be completed no later than this upcoming October with the findings to be publicly presented during a Chelsea City Council meeting. We will not know any actual costs associated with a new city school system until the study is completed. The goal at this time is to gather as much information as possible, share that with the public, and then present opportunities for informed decisions to be made when that time comes.
Yes. Within Shelby County, the City of Alabaster formed its own school system in 2013. The following year in 2014, the City of Pelham created its own city school system. Across the state, other recent examples include Gulf Shores in Baldwin County beginning its city school system in 2019, and Pike Road in Montgomery County forming its city school system in 2015.
What happens to these students if the city forms its own school system? We want to take every possible step to enable these families and children to continue being served by our schools. Along with students residing within Chelsea’s city limits, these young people are important and valued members of our student population. Once the feasibility study is completed and publicly presented this fall, we all will know the steps required to form and operate a new city school system. At that time, we will reach out to all our families, both those living within the Chelsea city limits and those not residing within the city limits but currently being served by our schools, to provide all such information. We think it important for all our students to continue without interruption their attending schools where they have established friendships with classmates and participated in extracurricular activities and sports alongside peers they have known over the years.
The Chelsea City Council has approved the exploratory process to begin with its having authorized a feasibility study to be completed regarding a possible new school system. Upon its completion, the study will provide information as to what may be required to create and support a new Chelsea City School System. Once the results of that study are presented publicly this fall, the City Council then will review and determine possible necessary next steps to be taken. Following that time, residents of Chelsea along with those families living outside the city limits whose children attend one of the Chelsea attendance zone schools – knowing what a new school system will mean and provide for them and their children- will be provided clear direction as to the opportunities that may be required for their consideration in helping determine and shape the future of a new school system.
With the formation of a Chelsea city school system, this will drop the student count from the high school, making the high school closer to the correct size that it needs to be. A new Chelsea Middle school would be a priority along with updating and repairing the current high school. Adding a gym to Chelsea Park and new classrooms to either Chelsea Park or Forest Oaks.
At this point, we are in an exploratory phase with the authorization of a feasibility study and until the findings of that study are completed, that question cannot be accurately answered. We do know that in some instances of new school systems being formed, it has taken approximately two years to begin on a sound and well-planned foundation. For us, that would mean a rough estimate of July 2023 at the earliest. Again, at this point the first step being taken is the authorization of a feasibility study to be completed.
We are committed to an open, transparent, and inclusive process involving the public that is based upon factual information starting with the findings of the feasibility study that will be publicly presented this upcoming fall. After receiving those findings, next steps in the process will be identified with the public being informed of what might be those possible and necessary next steps in the formation of a new Chelsea school system.