*Article updated at 4:35 p.m. on Tuesday, February 5.
A steering committee Monday night recommended that the Trussville Board of Education and city officials build a new elementary school on Mary Taylor Road to alleviate overcrowding. The school system still needs to rule on the recommendation, however, leaving the final resolution to a later meeting.
“No decision has been made on the final location,” said Barry Davis, Interim Director of Facilities for Trussville schools. “There will be ongoing discussions on whether to use the [Mary Taylor Road lot] or to pursue other options.”
Citizens at a meeting a week ago cited concerns about the Mary Taylor Road location over increased taxes, decreased property values, road safety and traffic, a nearby shooting range, and the potentially hazardous proximity of a Birmingham City landfill.
Officials have indicated that something must be done soon to alleviate overcrowding in the elementary grades. With more than 900 students enrolled in grades K-5 at Paine Elementary School — more than 300 above capacity — Paine requires at least 13 portable classrooms.
“The primary goal is to reduce the number of students at Paine Elementary School,” Davis said. The system plans either to build a new facility or renovate an old one, with the aim of splitting the K-5 student population between Paine and the second elementary school.
Prior to Monday’s recommendation, the steering committee was tasked with studying two potential locations —Mary Taylor Road, and a former school building in the historic Cahaba Homestead Village — taking into consideration traffic flow, parking, energy efficiency, safety, operating costs, and playgrounds.
An architectural consultant reported that building on the new lot would cost $16 million, but renovating the old school would be almost $17 million.
Superintendent Pattie Neill said that the state recommends building new schools on at least 12 acres. According to Neill, the Mary Taylor Road lot provides 39 acres, while the old school building is on a lot less than six acres in size.
The committee, including Superintendent Neill and Trussville Mayor Eugene Melton, all agreed that the problem of overcrowding at Paine Elementary must be solved quickly, but could offer no definitive timeline until the Board reaches a decision.
“No decision has been made…we first have to figure out where to put the school, and then how to pay for it,” said Board President Bill Roberts.
Davis said that if the Mary Taylor Road location is not chosen, a separate committee will be put together to find and discuss those options.
The Board’s next scheduled meeting will be held March 4 at the Central Office on Chalkville Road.