Coffeeville High School Closing, Town Fighting It

Coffeeville High School Closing, Town Fighting It

By Chad Petri

Coffeeville High School is a relatively small school, but it's a big part of the town of Coffeeville, and a lot of people are upset by the idea that it won't be around next year.

“This is our heart, this is the common fiber that holds this community together, it crosses racial lines, economic lines, everybody loves that school up there,” says a parent Joe Parden getting a little choked up. I wasn't allowed inside the school today but I easily found people who wanted it to stay.

“My brothers went here, my grandfather went here, it’s just like history,” says Coffeeville Senior Dexter Williams. I asked the mayor to help me find a couple people to talk on camera. Instead I got about 50 people meeting me on the lawn of the town hall at 8:30 in morning with signs.

“[The school is] all we have, we have shops and businesses I don’t see anything coming to Coffeeville if we don’t have that school as an anchor,” says Mayor Robert Cox. The Clarke County Board of Education voted to close the school at the end of the summer. Superintendent Woodie Pugh says they can't afford to keep it open anymore.

“It's been several years talked about closing Coffeeville, I hated to do it, but had no other choice with the lack of funding,” says Pugh. As a Coffeeville alum himself Pugh says this wasn't an easy decision.

“It's even hard for me to go to Coffeeville because the friends I had there, I’m sure they feel like I betrayed them but again I had no other choice,” says Pugh. Parents, alumni and students aren't giving up.

“That's just not right and if you're going to put finances over kids you might as well just shut the doors because we're never going to have enough money, that's the bottom line,” says Coffeeville graduate and parent Janee’ Parden. School officials say children at Coffeeville will go to other schools in Grove Hill and Jackson Alabama next year.

Some parents are concerned about Adequate Yearly Progress or AYP. Coffeeville High School has met AYP for the past five years. Two of the high schools that children are slated to be transferred two next year did not. The superintendent says the other middle and elementary schools that Coffeeville students will attend next year did meet AYP.

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