‘We have to abide by the law’: Lawrence County superintendent responds to fears over closure of R.A. Hubbard High School

Lawrence County superintendent responds to fears over closure of R.A. Hubbard High School

COURTLAND, Ala. (WAFF) - Every year under the Accountability Act, schools in Alabama are placed on the failing schools list based on their average scores from a state mandated test. In Lawrence County, R.A. Hubbard High School is the only school on the failing list. Now, many in the community fear this will result in the closure of the school.

During the last few weeks, there have been a number of community meetings to explain what this means and what’s next. Tuesday, the superintendent, Dr. Jon Smith, met with parents for the final meeting before a decision is made.

“I didn’t make the law but we have to abide by such," said Smith. “Our main focus in this process is to ensure our students have an opportunity to succeed in college and in their careers.”

Smith explained there are several others factors at play like mandates from the desegregation order and declining enrollment.

R.A. Hubbard is a district one school in Lawrence County.

Despite the consolidation of another district one high school years back, Smith explained enrollment continues to decline.

“In 15 years we’ve gone from 761 students to 344. That’s a loss in 15 years of 417 students or over half our students have left," explained Smith.

He went on to add the school system is spending over $15,000 per student, which is the highest of any school in the County. This number is generated on operating cost compared to student population.

Tuesday night was the last of several meetings.

From here, letters will soon be sent home with four options: remain at R.A. Hubbard, go to a different school in the County, leave the County-system altogether or receive a tax break at a private school.

Many outraged parents told our crews they feel once students chose to transfer then numbers will continue to decline and R-A Hubbard will close.

“I feel like as a parent that the Superintendent failed me," said parent Audrey Horton. "All I kept hearing was the closing of the school but I didn’t hear anybody talk about what we’re going to do to make the school better.”

“You can’t ask these kids to sit down and take that ACT test and pass it with a high score if they don’t have ACT-prep," said Lawrence County NAACP President, Jan E. Turnbore.

Students at R.A. Hubbard were offered ACT prep for the first time this school year.

Smith says the goal isn’t to close R.A. Hubbard, rather to give students other options given the circumstances.

Letters will be sent out by January with results tallied by March.

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