Superintendent: Career tech campus to alleviate crowding, multiple schools will move

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DECATUR, Ala. - City Board of Education officials remain busy planning a new system that will bus students to a centralized career tech school.

Some in the community fear the new Austin and Decatur High Schools will be over capacity, but Superintendent Michael Douglas says he has no concerns about overcrowding.

"We’re going to be good because when the two new high school opens, the old Austin will become a standalone career tech school," he explained.

Currently, tech classes are taught at the high schools but will be centralized at the current Austin site once the school moves to the new location on Modaus Road. He adds that some tech classes, such as JROTC and family consumer science, will remain on the main campuses. He says some core classes will likely be taught at the career tech campus as well.

He says the district will bus students from their schools to the tech campus, whether that be for one period or multiple. He expects that 300-500 students will be at the centralized campus at any given time.

"That's going to alleviate some of the crowding issues," said Douglas. "The new Austin was built for 1,450 students, now we're up to 1,406, in that range. The new Decatur was built for 1,100 students and right now we currently have a little over 1,000."

He says school enrollment was lower when the two schools were planned, but they still can house the current student population. He added that the district does have unused acreage across the sites, so they have room for expansion if need be. He says when the schools were drawn up, before he took the position, the plans factored in the concept of having students commuting to the career tech campus.

The district will also have early registration in January 2018 so they'll have an idea of how many students will be taking classes at the tech campus.

Changes to the district

In addition to the tech campus, Douglas tells WHNT News 19 that teachers will be sharing instructional space, similar to a college campus, versus being assigned to a room.

When the high school moves in the fall of 2018, it will set off a major domino effect with other schools moving.

The current Austin High site will be part tech school, but Brookhaven Middle will also move to the Danville Road campus. Douglas said Brookhaven won't change sites until January of 2019, so the district has extra time to retrofit it to make it appropriate for a middle school.

Brookhaven Middle students currently share their campus with Somerville Road Elementary students. Over time, the elementary school will shift to occupy the current Oak Park Middle campus, as the middle school moves to the current Decatur HS site.

Douglas pointed out that the plan for the new Decatur construction flaunts a bridge that will connect the current HS to the future campus. It will connect Oak Park to Decatur High upon completion of the move.

Douglas says a number of the schools could undergo name changes.