Decatur’s State of Schools & Five Year Strategic Construction Plan

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DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) - Dr. Ed Nichols, the superintendent of Decatur City Schools, discussed the system's five-year strategic plan and proposed school construction during a State of the Schools address Tuesday.

Nichols says the system has spent the past year working on a strategic proposal called the '2020 Plan'. During that time he says community involvement played a large role as nearly 1,000 community members provided feedback and suggestions.

Out of the plan the school system has been able to begin tackling 2 pivotal initiatives; career-tech opportunities and technology.

"One of those of course is allowing our kids to find out their career pathways," says Nichols. "Working with Calhoun Community College we have almost 200 more kids this year taking courses out there."

33 students are currently participating in a welding program at Calhoun every Tuesday night. Nichols says the co-op program along with middle school exploratory curriculum with courses ranging from aviation mechanics to cosmetology gear students toward a specific skilled discipline.

"We are working those schedules out so our kids that want to get into a career pathway can go ahead and start that their junior or senior year of high school and start building those credits toward that degree."

Nichols says over the past few years decreasing enrollment across the system gave reason for concern. But a boost of 180 students this year will help with additional state funding, Nichols says. The system already bank rolled laptops for grades 5-8 last year.

"And we're looking at the high schools next year with a bring-your-own-device type of activity."

The system is also ready to move forward with a plan to construct two new high school buildings in the city.

"We are working on getting our funding in place to do that and beginning to look for property and the design of a new high school. You know, the high school we build today will be around for 50 years but 50 years from now, what will you need in a high school? So, we're excited about looking down the road at having some new facilities," Nichols says.

There are also considerations in the works to shift expenditures within the local budget to make the plan come to fruition. Nichols says this will likely need to happen by way of lowering personnel costs through areas like attrition and retirements.

Nichols hopes to have new high school construction up and running in a time span of about 3 to 5 years. The estimated cost for the new facilities is $70 million.