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By EMILY SPARACINO / Editor-in-chief
PELHAM – Superintendents of Shelby County’s four public school systems shared updates on local education at the Shelby County Chamber’s annual State of Our Schools luncheon on Wednesday, August 25 at the Pelham Civic Complex.
Each of the superintendents – Dr Wayne Vickers from Alabaster City Schools, Dr Dee Fowler from Hoover City Schools, Dr Scott Coefield from Pelham City Schools and Dr Lewis Brooks from Shelby County Schools – had several minutes to speak before taking turns answering. questions from the House Career Preparation Working Group.
Below are comments from each superintendent, listed alphabetically by school system.
Alabaster City Schools – Dr Wayne Vickers
Vickers provided an overview of the Alabaster City school system, which consists of five schools with a total of 6,219 students enrolled.
In addition to pre-K programs and educational coaches in schools, Vickers said the ACS offers four vocational and technical academies as feeding programs for Thompson High School.
“Over the past few years, we’ve had a 730 percent increase in the number of students attending our Academy of Health Sciences,” Vickers said. “Right now we have over 400 high school students enrolled in part of our health sciences program. “
Vickers described THS as the cornerstone of the district’s motto, “Champions of Our Future,” noting that it is home to 10 academic and professional academies, 12 CTE programs, specialty courses and AP courses offered in all four subjects, 20 AP courses and 130 different elective courses.
Vickers said the school system’s 97% college and career readiness rate in 2021 matches the graduation rate.
“We’re very excited about this,” he said. “We want every child to take this step to get a degree that means something, where they will have a path to success after graduation. “
Vickers also provided an update on ACS facility improvements at each school campus, including a third gymnasium at THS, gymnasium renovations at Thompson Middle School, and improvements at Creek View Elementary, Meadow View Elementary and Thompson Intermediate schools. .
Hoover City Schools – Dr Dee Fowler
Fowler, who started as the new superintendent of Hoover City Schools in July, said the doors to schools in the district were “wide open.”
“I have visited schools and seen a lot of happy children,” he said. “I have seen children happy to be back to school, I have seen children happy to learn, and I have seen children happy to be with their friends. I have seen many people who have been caring for students and adults as we face a very difficult situation.
The number of students enrolled in the district reached 13,600 and the graduation rate in 2021 was 94%.
In August 2019, HCS opened the Riverchase Career Connection Center (RC3), a vocational training center that combines college preparatory studies and vocational technical training.
As the school system continues with its limited 30-day masking plan, Fowler said employees are working hard to maintain a safe and positive learning environment for students.
“We will do our best to love your children, we will do our best to educate your children, and we will do our best to prepare your children for a better future,” said Fowler. “We will do all we can to protect your children. “
Pelham Town Schools – Dr Scott Coefield
Coefield said Pelham City Schools had achieved most of its five-year goals, including establishing a solid foundation for finances and improving school facilities.
The district is looking to acquire a property that could house a new school building in the future, he said.
“Another thing was the relationship with our city,” he said. “Our mayor and city council made a terrific statement by signing a contract with us and ensuring that the 1 cent sales tax could never be touched by the city government.”
Coefield said the district’s goals also included teaching students about responsibility and developing a district-wide identity that was not limited to numbers and metrics.
“We are talking about creating value in our school system,” he said. “These are the relationships; it’s about having special people and places, and I’m so thrilled that in Pelham we have a lot of special people and places.
The number of students enrolled in the district is currently 3,394 and the graduation rate in 2021 was 93%.
On the last report card, Pelham ranked in the Top 20 percent of all school systems in Alabama and received a 97 in the School Growth Indicator.
Shelby County Schools – Dr Lewis Brooks
Brooks said the seven high schools in the Shelby County school system are ranked in the top third of the best high schools in Alabama by US News and World Report.
Oak Mountain High School ranks 13th, Helena High School 25th and Chelsea High School 45th on the list.
“We take great pride in the instruction that goes on in our buildings,” said Brooks. “We are very proud of our teachers. We have launched a new strategic planning process and we have a very hard working leadership team looking at the next steps for our school district.
Brooks said innovation, community partnerships, recruitment and retention, organizational commitment and leadership development are among the top priorities for the district.
In February, SCS launched a $ 41 million campaign to complete capital improvement projects on school campuses in the district.
“Shelby County continues to grow,” Brooks said. “We have huge growth areas in Chelsea, Calera and Helena. We’re looking to make sure we can keep up with this growth.
The number of students enrolled in the district is currently 20,689 and the graduation rate is 95%.
During the question-and-answer portion of the discussion, Coefield spoke about the pressure on superintendents and district leaders to make tough decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“No one here is qualified to be a health worker,” he said. “In times of crisis, I think there has to be some kind of centralized command control. I hope that when we go through this pandemic, our heads of state, before introducing any bills or passing bills, will think about entering a room with the Ministry of Public Health, the officials of the education and the governor. “
Brooks, Vickers and Fowler echoed Coefield’s statements.
“We need direction, we need guidance and we need to have something that we can all hang our hats on,” Fowler said.
A spirit of mutual support was evident among the four superintendents.
Vickers praised Brooks, Fowler and Coefield for their leadership and said he enjoys working with them.
“Shelby County is very fortunate to have four exceptional school districts,” said Vickers.
Fowler also praised Vickers, Brooks and Coefield for their work.
“Shelby County is very fortunate to have these three gentlemen as superintendents,” Fowler said. “I’ve known them for a long time and I would trust these three guys to lead my child’s education strategies.”
Brooks said the four school districts provide quality education to thousands of Shelby County students.
“We are convinced that not only in the schools in Shelby County, but in the districts that you see here, there is a lot to offer our students,” said Brooks. “We appreciate all of you as business leaders supporting what we do.”